I met Bill, an 80-year-old industry veteran from Cranberry, PA, just north of Pittsburgh, this past winter in Harrisburg at a state training.
He and I ate dinner together every night in Harrisburg, and I intently listened to his stories—many of which involved his travels, both with the military and now with his son’s amusement company. They all had a lesson, and I was glad to have met someone with such a storied history and life experiences to share.
On a recent Thursday night, I was working at a site in northern Wayne County when I got a phone call from our Rent-E-Vent main office. “Someone was here to surprise you, but he had a long ride ahead of him so he had to get back on the road. He didn’t leave his name, but had me take a picture of him and the ride he was towing.” My coworker sent me the picture—it was Bill!
Bill doesn’t use GPS, or even have a cell phone, so I was so touched he’d made the effort to visit me. Turns out, he happened to have been purchasing an amusement ride in Lock Haven, and figured since he was in the NE quadrant, he couldn’t not find Honesdale (which was just about all he remembered). He followed Route 6 on his map all the way here, and then cruised “the main strip” looking for a rental company. He eventually pulled up by the Honesdale Library when he found another older gentleman walking his dog. He waved and the man came right over. Bill asked if the man knew where there might be a rental company, and sure enough, he did. It was too difficult to describe without writing it all down, so instead he asked if he and his dog could jump in and he’d take Bill right to us. Upset I wasn’t on the other end of his surprise, but still happy he got to tour our warehouse, Bill headed back out, first to drop the navigator and his pup back off uptown.
Bill is one of the forefathers that will be most sore to lose when his time comes, for his family, colleagues and humanity in general. His hike into Honesdale, just to see me and check out the business I was so proud to tell him about, is just one small proof of that. Bill called me after his visit to tell me he thinks Honesdale is the best small town he’s ever been to, even acknowledging what a hefty title that was for a place he’d only spent 90 minutes in, and most of it lost without direction.
Bill has already told his daughter she must come for a visit, and she and her husband promptly looked us up.
The lesson in this story is that we should all make a conscious effort to be like the man who lives by the library, and teach our children to do the same (not necessarily jumping in strangers’ cars, but the sentimental equivalent).
Honesdale is flourishing because of the people who live here and those who spread the word about what’s happening—art, music, new businesses, history, nature and downtown development. I’m proud to have been raised in this small town, and to be part of its future.
We aren’t anything if we aren’t our people.
Joelee Motichka is the CEO and general manager at Rent-E-Vent, by Rent-E-Quip, inc. She is an active community member in Honesdale, PA.