Minnesota really, really nice

Published 9:36 am Saturday, March 10, 2018

Seems we Minnesotans are recognized for something special.  You’ve heard it … “Minnesota Nice.” Quite a claim and not one to be taken lightly.  But, are we truly worthy of such a magnanimous label?  Are we nice? Really nice?

Shed those doubts for we are nice.  Really, really nice. At least some of us.  This truth was certainly made clear to my husband and me during three recent incidents when, unexpectedly, four strangers … nice Minnesota strangers … stepped into our tangle of troubles; their kindness suddenly reversing our predicaments.

In each event, these folks had many reasons to pass us by, but instead they demonstrated a generosity of spirit and a generosity of time, ignoring their needs and fully concentrating on ours.

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The first occurrence happened in Younkers where my granddaughter lost an earring.  This was a big deal because the earring—a gift from her brother—was  the real deal. Gold!   A search began. Finding nothing, I asked the manager to please contact me if it was found. The next evening at 9PM the phone rang. Excitedly the manager told me she had, indeed, just found it!

Stop here for a moment and picture Younkers.  All those aisles!  All that merchandise! How extraordinarily unlikely for Shannon Hogstad to have found a single needle in that haystack of inventory.  She is a busy gal. How easy it would have been to ignore my request, it being so highly improbable.  But, she didn’t. The Oscar goes to Shannon for her exceptional customer service.

The second incident occurred after the Hormel stockholders meeting.  Glen and I had parked behind the AHS music annex. Slow in leaving the meeting, it was late when we arrived back at the car.  It was dark and both sides of the road were deserted. Glen turned the ignition key. Nothing. The battery was as dead as the proverbial door nail.

What to do?  No person in sight and the cell phone left at home, it was an especially mean spirited night, frigid and windy for which we were not adequately dressed. Furthermore, we were far from home, an icy trek which Glen could not have managed in any weather.

We sat there for what seemed like a long time going over our options, each one ending with a blank.  Suddenly there was a loud clanking of metal when the annex back door service elevator opened.  Inside was a young man on his way to the Dumpster.  He looked to be in his 20’s with very dark hair and the build of a football player. Not your usual angel image, but we would soon learn that angels come in all colors and sizes.

I asked him if he could help us. Without hesitating he was on the case slowly and meticulously checking out our engine.  Then he abruptly announced he was going to get his truck. Seriously now, this young man had hours of custodial work to do.  Helping us meant he would be considerably behind in his night duties.  Besides, the weather was miserably cold and he did not have his jacket, both of which he ignored.

Fifteen minutes later, his truck appeared out of the inky darkness. Soon we were purring.  Justin Hovde could not have been more benevolent and devoted to our needs.  We are deeply grateful for his altruism.  Justin has earned the 2018 AHS Award for Stewardship. (And if there was no such award before, there is now!)

Three days later I was parked in the alley behind Sweet Reads.  Returning to my car (a different one), I was greatly dismayed (by now I was getting really good at dismay!) to find this car battery also dead.  Were the car batteries of the world out to get us? Having learned my lesson, I did have my cell phone.  I called Glen who arrived shortly thereafter.

Locating the battery (there are two) in a Toyota Prius is like finding a real gold earring in Younkers!  After muddling around with no success, we went into the store.  There, to our remarkable good fortune, we were introduced to Randy Fett. Without a moment’s hesitation, he headed out to the alley.

Unable to solve the problem, Randy called his son, Tyler, a true Prius expert.  The two conversed a good thirty minutes—with Randy following Tyler’s instructions. I was struck by their patience with each other, but especially so with us.  After all, we had interrupted them in the middle of a perfectly good Saturday afternoon.

After a few hours—did you get that—hours, all was set right with the installation of a new battery executed perfectly by Randy with Tyler’s telephone assistance.  Not once during that time did they show an ounce of exasperation or brusqueness with us.  Both were absolute gentlemen going out of their way to help two wanting people they had just met for the first time.

It’s as if the neediness in Glen and me had caused a contagion of caring. Like we were some kind of magnets for compassion to which Shannon, Justin, Randy and Tyler were drawn. With heartfelt gratitude, we have sent four gold stars heaven bound with their names and the zip code 55912, so that St. Peter will be sure to take note of them and their good works.