When things shut down in March, my credit union folks on East Avenue closed their lobby. The drive-through remained open and so, when I had checks to cash or money to deposit, there I’d be, along with everybody else, in the line.
The first few times I stayed in my car.
I’d leave it running unless the line was really, really long, and then I’d have the debate with myself about whether it is more environmentally friendly to stop and start or just leave it on. Where are the “Car Talk” guys when you need an expert opinion, right?
Anyway, I decided it was dumb for me to sit in my car, running or not, when I could be outside, so I’ve been standing in the line. It’s been an opportunity to observe things.
Early on in the closure, town was pretty quiet. There wasn’t much traffic; the Acme/Super Duper/Bi-Lo/Tops parking lot was nearly empty; there were hardly anybody out walking.
But I could see the big Penn Wells sign, a familiar beacon in the unfamiliar territory we were in, and, beyond that, the hillsides rising up around the borough, just like always.
One day the guy in the car ahead of me rolled down his window, called me by name, and asked me if I didn’t have anything to drive. Oh, yeah, I said, I do. We chatted a minute or two — he was telling me about all the wildlife he’d seen recently, so that was nice to hear.
Another day, a young man in the vehicle behind me called out to me, held his phone out the window, and asked me if I wanted to talk to his mom. I used to work with her at The Steak House; she lives in Utah now and I hadn’t heard her voice in years. It put a smile on my face and brought back a bunch of memories.
It was raining one afternoon recently while I was waiting — not a hard rain, and it wasn’t really cold. The lady in the car ahead of me — I don’t know who she was and I assume she didn’t know who I was — rolled down her window and invited me to wait in her car.
What a kind gesture! I said thank you, but I’m OK out here. She let me get ahead of her in line.
Spring arrived in fits and starts this year, and from one week to the next during my line time I’d see the changes. A little green here and there, then a little more snow, then the first flowers and bees and singing birds. A few more people out and about, and finally shorts and T-shirts rather than winter coats and hats.
There were times standing there in the line when I’d get an overwhelming feeling of wonder for this place we call home — this county, this country, this planet.
How is it that the sky is so blue, and that I can turn around and smile at the person in the car behind me and he or she will smile back, even if we don’t know each other, that the person at the window knows my name and asks me how I am?
How is it that I’m out here because of some weird virus that I can’t see, one that, thankfully, hasn’t made much of an appearance in these parts but is nevertheless killing people by the tens of thousands all over the world?
Well, the lobby’s open now, and I’ve been in, but I still sort of like the view from the outside queue. It’s a good place to be.