Small towns appear about every 10-12 miles along the 4-lane highway that one picks up in Springfield to travel through this area of the state heading to Arkansas. The highway bypasses the towns, but there are plenty of access roads (our town has 3 exits on the highway), so none of these towns have died like what, unfortunately, happened to towns along the old U.S. Highway 66.
Some of larger towns have a Walmart. For us, the nearest Walmart is in any direction is about 25 (give or take a few) miles away, so going to Walmart is not a “quick trip” and is not convenient if we don’t have a lot of shopping to do.
Now the corporation that operates Dollar General Store came up with a brilliant idea: Put a Dollar General Store in each of the small towns along the highway. That way the residents in these small town don’t have to drive so far to go to a variety store.
But then the brilliant idea starts to dim. The corporation has some screwy ideas that can make shopping at the Dollar General incredibly frustrating. The store does not hire people to stock the shelves. The clerks who are supposed to be behind the checkout counter are required to stock the shelves during normal business hours, but they are not allowed to put a bell on the counter so customers waiting to pay for their purchases can alert the clerk. Sometimes you have to stand there at the counter and wait… and wait… and wait… for the clerk (who may be in the back of store) to realize someone is there. Another problem is that is even more frustrating is when something is gone from the shelf, it can be up to 6 weeks before the product is back on the shelf. We have experienced this numerous times.
My husband’s birthday was last Thursday, and on Friday, he asked me to stop by Dollar General on the way home from aerobics class and buy a couple of packages of thank-you notes because he needed to send some. The store has a $5 off coupon on $25 of merchandise purchased on Saturday, but you have to spend $5 at one time to get the coupon. He figured two or three packages of thank-you notes would be enough to get the $5-off coupon.
So I went to the store and looked in the logical places for the thank-you notes. The store has a rather extensive collection of inexpensive greeting cards for most occasions and that is where I buy the greeting cards I send. After wandering up and down aisles and looking on end caps and not finding any packages of thank-you notes, I finally asked the clerk.
“We don’t have any,” she says, “some of the stores have thank-notes notes but not this one. We don’t carry thank-you notes here anymore.”
I stood there a little dumbfounded. “Why?” She shrugged her shoulders. She didn’t know.
Part of the joy of small-town living. A variety store that doesn’t have what one would think is sort of a basic need for polite society. One of the pharmacies in town may have thank-you notes, so I will have to check that out. Otherwise, getting thank-you notes will have to wait until we have a lot of shopping to do at Walmart.
Our computer guy used to tease Richard that he has more redundancy than NASA. I mean, the man has backups, and then backups for the backups, etc. This obsession of his has gotten us out real messes many times so I am not complaining.
So Saturday arrives and hums along -- thank-yous were tendered by e-mail and he did not shop at Dollar General and spend $25 on merchandise -- until about 5 p.m., when my dearly beloved announces, “I’m going to take my shower now.” He comes back surprisingly quickly. Right in the middle of his shower, the water just stopped. Zip. Zero. Nada. Fortunately, he had not started to wash his hair.
You get that initial panicky feeling. What? No water? You see we are not on city water. Our water comes from well and is pumped into a pressure tank in small well house behind the house.
So he heads out to the well house. He installed lights and a switch to turn them on to keep the interior warm in the winter so the pipes don’t freeze. The lights don't work. So that tells him it is an electrical problem rather than a failure of the well pump or the pressure tank.
He goes to the pole where the electrical meter is and opens the box below the meter and discovers the breaker to the well house is tripped, but the breaker appears to be broken and can't be reset. He very carefully disconnects the wires from the meter to the breaker and from the breaker to the well house, after much struggle (grinding rusted screws etc etc.), is able to get the box apart enough so he can pull the breaker from the box.
In the meantime, I have heated a 2-liter bottle of water (we have numerous bottles of water stored in case of power failures) on the stove and washed my hair.
The True Value hardware in town stays open until 7 p.m., on Saturday so he decides to go to there to see if they have the breaker he needs. He is not hopeful about this. This is a small town True Value, after all. And so he disappears down the stairs to the garage.
My heart goes out to him. He is the man. He is expected to fix these problems. I have calmed down. We were without power for 3 days once after the remnants of a hurricane came through here, so we are prepared. We have 5-gallon buckets of water to flush the toilet with, 2-liter bottles of water for cooking and dishes… we can handle this.
Maybe 10 minutes later he comes back in the house, walks over to the sink, and turns the faucet on. He just happened to remember that he has a bunch of breakers left over from years ago when he did the electrical panel in the house. Guess what? He has the right-sized breaker to go back in the box, and he was able to get that wired up again.
Sunday morning when we were eating breakfast he says, "You know, that had to be God yesterday. He was leading me. I couldn't have figured all of that out by myself..."
He leadeth me: O blessed thought!
O words with heavenly comfort fraught!
Whate'er I do, where'er I be,
still 'tis God's hand that leadeth me.