Mary of Oskaloosa
Our campground was approximately 13,000 miles away from, well, anything. We could have just hung out there, but after dinner, the place gets kind of dead. In town there was music and beer and Walking Tacos!
Oskaloosa ran a pretty good bus shuttle program. If NASA had run the space shuttle program as well, it would still be running. Of course, the astronauts would be expected to tip well.
I couldn’t quite figure out the math, watching the shuttles leave for town. They always had more people going than coming back. The math doesn’t work out. Just based on simple addition and subtraction, there’s a few hundred people hanging out in downtown Oskaloosa thinking, “Aren’t we supposed to be bicycle riding right about now?”
Mary was just getting off volunteer duty for the day. I was standing in line with a few dozen more, waiting for the next downtown bound shuttle. Mary pulled her car up and cheerfully hollered, “Anyone need a ride downtown? I’ve got room for four!”
I don’t think any of us are used to that level of friendly neighborliness. It took me a few seconds to say, “Yes, thank you,” and hop in the shotgun seat. Three others crowded in the back. And we were all shuttled downtown in an air conditioned luxury SUV instead of waiting for the school bus.
It only took about 15 minutes to get there, but Mary kept us entertained the entire time with local stories, and tales about her husband, grown kids, and grand kids. She said she wound up in Oskaloosa because of her husband’s job. Mary was a financial planner. She said she and her husband both loved to spend money (concerts, vacations, shows) so she used her Financial Planner powers to keep her husband working. “We can’t do all the things we like to do if you quit working, dear.”
I’ve truly been blown away by the incredible spirit of hospitality “the natives” all show. But Mary’s giving us a ride really was icing on the cake. Seriously, when’s the last time a complete stranger offered you a ride? (All right, the police offering you a ride in the back isn’t quite the same. C’mon.)