Driving in to town one day late this summer, a warning light came on in my little yellow VW Beetle.
I knew just where to go to have it checked out.
I drove directly to the man who owns an auto repair and muffler shop, a man who grew up in this small farming community with my dad. This man, it has been said, could trouble-shoot any tractor or car problem while blindfolded, his hands tied behind his back.
Mystery. Rex Crumlick spent the entire afternoon running every possible scan he could run on my little car. None of his computer scanners picked up anything wrong, so he even went so far as to drive the car to another shop in town, asking them to check it out.
When I stopped by later in the day, Rex assured me it was safe to drive the little car. He felt certain an ABS sensor light had come on because one tire was “rougher than a cob,” but no amount of scanning could fully explain it nor clear the signal.
I asked Rex what I owed him for all of his time and trouble.
“Not a thing. I didn’t do much of anything.”
I protested, but he insisted I was not to pay him. I arranged, then, to bring the car back the next week for an oil change. As I walked out the door, I thanked him again, and added, “My dad always told me you were a real good fellow. Thank you so much.”
The next week, I walked in to the shop and handed Rex my key.
He said, with a smile on his face, “My son helped me figure out who you are. I was so surprised to find out that you are Stan Young’s daughter! I went to school with your dad.”
Recognition. Rex told me he grew up playing on the farm that is now my home, and said, with a chuckle, he could tell me quite a few stories about how ornery my dad was as a youngster.
I was even more amazed to realize that this fine man had gone the extra mile for me, not knowing me from the next guy. On this particular day, Rex changed the oil and then worked at troubleshooting a tail light that wasn’t working quite right.
He determined the tail light housing was damp, so he worked at drying it all out, replaced the bulb, then told me that the next time I was near a VW dealership, I should get a new tail light housing and he could replace it for me.
He wouldn’t take any extra for his labor, but charged me only for the oil change.
Just a few weeks ago, I heard that Rex had been forced to take some time off work because he wasn’t feeling well. He had spent some time in the hospital and was now recovering from surgery.
The very next day, I was driving down the road when I saw a new warning light on the dash – one I had never seen before. It just so happened I would be driving past the VW dealership, so I stopped and asked if they could check to see if it was anything serious.
The garage mechanic determined quickly that the gas cap simply had not been tightened enough when I had stopped at a full-service station earlier that morning.
“That’s all? Well, that’s a relief!” I said.
Sticker shock. “Yep, that’ll be $106 for our services,” the shop manager told me.
I relayed this story to Rex Crumlick’s sister, and told her that her brother is a gem, a one-in-a-million great guy who charged me nothing when he most certainly could have demanded a large amount of money as others do.
“I know. I’ve heard this type of story many, many times,” Marge said of her kind-hearted brother.
I grew up hearing that Rex was a fine, honest, hard-working man who had lost his dad in a farming accident when he was still a young man. I knew, beyond a doubt, that I could count on his integrity just as surely as I could count on my own dad.
The greatest generation. Rex is of a generation of fine individuals from this community. My husband says, upon returning from the village corner grocery store, “Well, I saw the governor, Kenny Wise, and he shared a few jokes and brought me up-to-date on all the important things.”
And while we laugh with these great fellows, we also recognize, with great solemnity, that we are blessed by this fine generation of individuals who have given so much to others unselfishly. We will be utterly lost someday without them.
When I count all that I am thankful for this Thanksgiving, Rex Crumlick is right up there at the top of my list. Our world is a better place thanks to good fellows like him.
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