There’s a weird vibe in the air — I think it’s equal parts excitement and nervousness.
As I was leaving the Abington Township building after speaking with Abington Police Lt. Tom McNamara and Chief William Kelly about preparations for this storm (story up later today), I realized something: my position on Route 63 hadn’t changed in more than 10 minutes. (I probably didn't notice because this week I've had the luxury/misfortune of driving a car without a clutch.) Where was the long line of cars headed? You guessed it, Lowe’s and Sam’s Club.
I was one of those people, as I had to pick up a sump pump ... something I should have done months ago.
I was expecting the worst from people in the store — images of people fighting over Tickle Me Elmos/Wiis/Cabbage Patch Kids popped into my head. I expected to see a battle-royale for all the essentials, but I was pleasantly surprised.
The Lowe’s was completely busy at about noon, but in this strange instance, everyone was there for the same reason. It was similar to shopping at the mall the day before Christmas or hitting up the beer distributor the morning of the Super Bowl. Everyone was smiling and chatting with each other. (Can you believe it? Talking and smiling with a stranger?)
“I’ll bet he’s here to buy gifts/beer for the game/a dozen flashlights for the apocalypse too!”
I saw younger customers help older people pick up cases of water; customers were making helpful suggestions to their fellow neighbors; and clerks were courteous.
While standing in line, holding my sump pump like an idiot, full of shame, I noticed that the guy behind me had also picked up a sump pump, albeit a heavier, more complex one. A stranger walked up to him and told him that he had purchased the same item last week. But he said after he returned home, he noticed that the device needed a piece of PVC piping that wasn’t included — forcing another trip.
The guy in line thanked the stranger for the advice, and added that he was going to go back and pick up the PVC after he dropped off the heavy pump in the car. The stranger walked away quickly, and I thought that was it. But a moment later, he rushed back with the exact piece that the sump pump-guy needed.
Sump pump-guy couldn’t believe it.
“What a really, really nice guy,” he said to me. "He didn't have to do that."
I muttered something about the stranger being a “sump pump wizard,” but I don’t think the guy in line heard me.
I agreed, and then I was on my way. It’s just refreshing to see people acting like neighbors when they have the same obstacle to overcome.
Kudos to the sump-pump wizard.
On a related note, during my trip to Lowe’s, I noticed that the store was completely sold out of submersible sump pumps, flashlights and undercounter LED lights. (Seeing a completely empty store shelf is kind of eerie.)