I wasn’t born here, but I often think I should have been.
I distinctly remember my first evening in Alamance County. It actually was a “dark and stormy” night, where I’d flown in a commuter (as in small) plane to Greensboro from Nashville, TN. The last 10 minutes of the flight and the drive to Burlington, had been in one of those ‘they only happen here’ late summer evening thunderstorms.
My destination that evening was the Hampton Inn (the one that used to be off Huffman Mill Road at Exit 141), as I had a breakfast appointment the next morning (a Saturday) with a potential client. My first surprise was the clerk at the desk, she actually told me she was sorry I had to drive through the storm, in all my travels, through all sorts of weather that, had never happened before.
My next surprise was at breakfast. My new client brought his (then) eight year old daughter to our meeting! Now I’ve had meetings with all sorts of executives, all over the country, and no one had ever brought one of their children to a meeting with me. He explained that Saturday breakfast was a regular thing for them as he traveled quite a bit, and he didn’t want her to miss out simply because he and I had this meeting.
I know for a fact that his daughter’s presence was the deciding factor for me in agreeing to take on their project and return to Burlington that September. I remember thinking that for someone that successful, he really had his priorities straight.
It wasn’t until I actually moved here to begin the project that I really began to see how different things are here from what I’d previously experienced.
It’s the people, and the lifestyle here, maybe nothing special to the natives, to them it’s just the way things are. To me however, it was, and remains, very special.
Take how I found my first apartment for example. It was early, before dawn, at the Circle K on the corner of Alamance Road and Mebane Street. I was getting gas before driving home in preparation for a for six (or more) month contract. I’d been thinking about how to find a place to live since signing the contract the day before, but, really didn’t know ‘how’ I was going to accomplish that from 800 miles away.
As I was paying for the gas (this was way before pay-at-the-pump became popular) there was a woman in the store who’d noticed my out of state tags and asked “Just passing through?”. I began to explain how I was leaving, but coming back, and had to find a place to stay in the next week or so. She proceeded to give me the name and number of a local man in the rental management business who had helped her find an apartment. When I got home, I called him. He not only had a place, it was fully furnished, in my budget and available. It turned out it was an apartment, in his home. He rented to me, sight unseen, no deposit, just the check for the 1st months rent. Over the following months he and I became friends and remained so until he died a year or so ago, in fact he helped me find the house I now own!
I’ve lived here for over 10 years now; these events took place back in 1993. The city has changed a lot since then, new stores, new roads, wider roads, more people and many new businesses. The one thing that hasn’t changed is how much I enjoy living here. Not a week goes by that I don’t experience something that reminds me how special a place this is. It might be the woman at the dry cleaner’s telling me about how much she loves Bingo, or the fellow yesterday at the gas station telling me about his son’s love of soccer while we filled up our cars. Something, every week reminds me that here in our little corner of the world we still see, talk and relate to one another in ways that are conspicuously absent nearly everywhere else I travel.
So there you have it, my first published piece. Certainly no work of literary genius, but good enough to make the magazine!! The Magazine is called "Alamance County Magazine" and it focuses on, of course, life here in Alamance County. The September issue was a 'Welcome to Alamance" issue and higlighted some of the benefits of living here. The piece was written to appeal to the theme.
Thanks again for stopping by, as the weekend is currently planned as a 'thrash' on the truck project weekend, I should be posting pictures and a narrative on the progress, or lack of it for the next three days.
You've been warned!