AND THEN AGAIN…….by Tamara Pettit

…….  Thank goodness for Samantha!  Who is Samantha you’re thinking?  She’s an employee at a Sheetz in Morgantown who reaffirmed my faith in the goodness of my fellow human beings Thursday when it seemed like the entire world had “gone to **** in a handbasket” as my mother used to say.  Had it not been for Samantha I would have emerged from the day soured on humanity.  It seemed as within the space of four hours,  I managed to test the  customer service skills of  the employees I encountered and found them to be woefully short.  Had it not been for Samantha, I would have taken my experiences that day as evidence that society had really lost its soul.

…… Let me start at the beginning.  Bill and I were headed to  WVU for medical appointments when about 20 miles shy  of our destination the check tire light came on.  With tires that were pretty new, a flat was unlikely so it appeared I had run over something.  While a Mercedes S class may be pricey, that price does not include a spare tire.   No,  today you get a “run flat” which is simply driving the next 20 miles with your heart racing 100 miles an hour as you pray you’ll make it.  (Does anyone else silently recite the Rosary as they count down the miles in such a situation!  I use my ten fingers for the ten Hail Mary’s)  Good news:  we did make it to WVU.   Bad news :  calls to tire dealers revealed no one had that certain tire in stock.

…… But, we formulated a plan.   While he stayed at WVU to keep his appointments,  I would set off to get the car to the tire dealer; rent a car; and return in time to pick him up.  When I have a plan I am confident.  I do not fear, I just go forth to carry out that plan.   I was going forth on my “run flat” to the tire dealers with the directions on my cell phone when the first sign occurred that plans go astray.  As I arrived at the  tire dealership, I looked at my cell phone.   Just like my tire, it had chosen that exact moment  to die.  I asked the owner of the dealership, a surly fellow indeed,  if someone could run me a mile down the road to the Enterprise dealer.  I was taken aback by his  “no.”   He told me to see if Enterprise would follow me back to the dealership in the car.    I set forth on my run flat counting  down the miles  and arrived at Enterprise Rental to find out that despite the reservation Bill  had made for a car online, there was no car for me.

…….  I begged. I cajoled.   I pleaded, but to no avail.   I left vowing never to return (not only to Enterprise, but to Morgantown.)  I was told there was a Hertz rental five miles up the road and had no choice but to risk it.     A call to Hertz said they had a car for me and I could pick it up immediately.  I was doing the ten Hail Mary’s on my toes when I arrived to find out the car had been rented.  How could that be?   It was only five minutes ago.   Blank stares.  I assumed a starship had come down from the heavens and taken my rental car with it.   It would be 2 p.m. before they would have a car for me.  Can you put air in my tire to get me back to the tire dealership? I asked.   No?  It was suggested that perhaps, I could go to the Sheetz down the road and put air in the tire.

…… If I only knew how to put air in my tire!!  Somewhere in my hurry to ensure equality in all things male/female, I had never learned the most self-sufficient task of them all.  I pulled up to the air pump and imagined blowing myself up instead of the tire.   I walked into Sheetz and went up to the cash register and asked if someone could help me.  That’s when I encountered Samantha.

……  She could help me, she said and although it was a rainy day she attempted to put air in the tire.  Only  the tire and potentially the rim were too far gone.  I went into Sheetz and reworked my plan.   Call AAA to have the car towed; get an UBER to WVU; pick up Bill; and UBER back to the Hertz Rental.   But there was no way to execute the plan.  There are no pay phones anymore to help us in an emergency.    Without a cell phone I could have been adrift on an island with no way of sending smoke signals.  But, then   Samantha offered me her cell phone.   I called Bill and asked him to order the tow truck.  As I waited for the tow truck, she lent me her cell phone again to let him know the progress and finally to order a car to get back to the hospital.  Did I mention that when she put air in my tires I tried to give her $20 and she refused.

……. Like all miserable days when minor inconveniences derail us temporarily, the day came to an end.   As we headed back to New Manchester in our rental vehicle, Bill got a message on his cell phone.   It was Samantha checking to make sure I made it back to the hospital and all was well.

…… We hear about how customer service no longer exists.  That’s not true.  Caring about fellow human beings is alive and operating well at a Sheetz in Morgantown.  Someday, I hope I get a chance to “pay it forward” to another human in distress.  In the meantime, I will patronize all Sheetz because  customer service is indeed alive and well there ….. its name is Samantha.