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A Gas Station Where Grace Abounds

Finding help and friendliness in small town Wyoming

Help at a gas station.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
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Kaycee, Wyoming, was the exit we took to seek help for our leaking back left tire on our rental car. We were traveling from northern Wyoming down to Denver. We were only an hour or so into our six-hour trip. The exits are few and far between on this stretch of highway. At the end of the exit was a Sinclair gas station and mart–a welcome sight. When we asked the woman at the register who might be able to help us, she said, “Tom. He’s the tire guy. Here’s his cell number.” She was so friendly, willing to help, and even offered to call him herself despite the hefty stream of customers. We could not help but think that this mart serves as a grocery store and gathering place for Kaycee, population 260. First names were called out to greet those who came and went. A cheerful spot.

On this day, when we had a schedule to keep, Tom could have been anywhere, hours up or down the highway, delivering auto supplies or a truck to a customer or helping service a car on the roadside. Or perhaps on vacation. But, when my husband rang Tom, he was just pulling off the Kaycee exit himself, returning from a four-hour delivery of a vehicle to Sheridan, Wyoming. What were the chances that his timing would be perfect for ours? The one man within 50 to 100 miles who could help us was there for us.

A 20-minute visit to his shop in the heart of Kaycee and the tire was sealed. Start to finish, what could have been a multiple-hour endeavor took just 45 minutes. In that time, we saw the workings of a small Wyoming town where everyone knew each other and asked about children and grandparents; where the person behind you in line would offer to share his change if yours was in your car; where we were helped by a man named Tom, who had spent his entire life in Kaycee and proudly told us of his school days, prom, his mayorship, his children; where we could pause and take in the beauty of the landscape and imagine the lives of those who live within it.

When something like our unexpected time in Kaycee happens, when good luck, good timing, good karma, God’s grace–whatever you call it–I, for fun and appreciation, imagine what if it had been otherwise? What if we were there for hours? What if we missed our engagement later that day or our flight in the morning? What if…

It gives me an even deeper appreciation for the way it worked out, for the people we met, for the town we came upon and for the kindness of others and the skill of Tom, whose life is far different than ours, yet surely a very happy and content one.

I find there is very often an opportunity for a takeaway, even, or especially, when you need to take a literal or figurative detour (or an exit).

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