During our time away at Lake Gaston this summer one afternoon I tore myself off the boat and into the car to return to Raleigh for a meeting.
As I drove down the lonely roads that connect our little piece of paradise to I-85, I realized that my tire light was on. I knew I was about 10 miles to the closest gas station.
Actually, it is the closest thing to civilization. It is called Pay Jays (because you pay Jay for whatever you buy) and it is 12 miles from the house where we stay. It is a gas station, general store, restaurant, and hang out for the local folks.
I racked my brain, but I could not recall if Pay Jays had air. I decided to stop and ask the guys that hangout in front of the store. I knew they would help me if they could.
Unfortunately, Pay Jay’s did not have air, but the guys said if I would go into town they were sure Wayne could fix me up. I did not have any clue who Wayne was, but they said his shop was on the right as I went into town. I thanked them and headed toward Wayne.
In my Raleigh-filled mind I thought town was one of the big city of Warren County—Norlina, about 6 miles down the road. Wrong.
Turns out town is a half a block from Pay Jays. There is a sign that says Wise. It is about 2 blocks as best I can tell. There is Pay Jays, a Baptist church, a post office, a volunteer fire station and Wayne’s Auto and Tractor Repair. I almost drove by it.
I pulled in looking for Wayne. All I found was two empty bays and a small office. I knocked on the office door and entered, explaining to the lady at the desk that the guys from Pay Jays had sent me for air. She laughed saying, “The guys are gone, but if you are willing to give it a shot I’m willing to help you.”
Suffice to say we sorted through a few greasy tools to find the adapter for the air compressor. Promptly overfilled the tire to 70 lbs of air; let it back out to get it close to 35 lbs. And smiled at each other proud of our success.
I asked her if I could pay her for her help, and she shook her head. “That is not how we do things around here she said.” I thanked her profusely and went safely on my way to Raleigh.
In the busyness of city life, we should all take a page from our small town neighbors and remember that kindness never goes out of style!