C.S. Lewis, author of “The Chronicles of Narnia,” tells us that life occasionally presents us with hints of what heaven will be like. We experienced what Lewis meant when our car broke down in Pinedale, Wyoming on July 29th. What appeared to be an inconvenience turned out to be a revelation of what America is really still all about: Friendly, charitable citizens who care about their neighbors. The real America, the one the media rarely talks about, is alive and well in Pinedale and undoubtedly in other such small towns across our country.
Our story begins when our car’s fuel pump failed just outside the city limits of Pinedale. We were towing our trailer but were able to park on the side of the road and did not obstruct traffic. I put my flashers on and raised my hood. We are AAA premium members, and we were in the process of calling them for a tow when a man who was driving a pickup truck going the other direction towards town stopped and asked if we needed help. I told him we had called AAA and had contacted them to help us, but he got out of his truck anyway and took a look under the hood. He told me he thought it was the fuel pump. He introduced himself as Mike Metz and called the “Angry Irish Garage” to send a mechanic out to take a look; DJ drove up within 20 minutes. He confirmed Mike’s diagnosis. Mike unhooked our trailer and hooked it up to his pickup and drove off to deliver it to the garage. Tom from T & L Salvage from AAA arrived shortly after DJ left to tow our car back to the garage.
Timarie, the office manager at the garage, gave us our estimate of what it was going to cost, and how long the repair would take. Unfortunately, it was a Friday, and they wouldn’t be able to replace the pump until Tuesday. She ordered the fuel pump and then got on the phone and was able to set us up at the Hampton Inn that night and at another motel for the next several nights. She transported our luggage and us to the Hampton and picked us up the next morning to take us to the other motel.
We spent three days just walking around town, visiting the wonderful Mountain Man Museum, peeking through the doors of the remarkable recreation center, spending hours at the library and visiting with the locals. Everyone was so friendly to us that our stay seemed more like a destination than an unavoidable stopover.
On our last day, we walked down from our motel to meet up with Mike at the “Burger Barn” to try out one of his burgers and thank him again for being our guardian angel. He treated us to a delicious lunch and drove us back to the garage to pick up our car. We somewhat reluctantly drove away from a town that had become our home away from home for the past four days.
If it had not been for Mike Metz stopping to help that fateful day and for his help and Timarie’s assistance in serving as our guardian angels throughout our stay in Pinedale, our experience would have been quite different. They and other Pinedale citizens who were so kind to us over those four days represent the best in all of us. Pinedale is a small town with a big heart. I shall return.
John and Patti Bartholomew