Tim Mills Until Then
November 27, 2013
I am confident that by now you know or understand I have a strong attachment to the theme of “Thanks-giving.”
There are so many things about the season and this time of the year that I just love. Having the opportunity to reflect and think back about this year and my lifetime, the experiences I have had, the people I have met, the places I’ve been and the books I have read are always good for me, and I hope you have enjoyed my thoughts of “Thanks-giving” 2013.
One of the things I really like about life is meeting people. I enjoy sharing stories and applying the “Six Degrees of Separation” theory is also a lot of fun for me. My final “Thanks-giving” of 2013 is all about a single moment of “Six Degrees of Separation” involving three juniors from Middlesboro High School in Bell County. They are Jacob Voges, Clay Greene and Cody Fee. These three, all juniors, are straight ‘A’ students.
The setting is a crazy one, and I learned a long time ago the best thing to do with life is make the best of it, wherever you are. I was on top of a mountain, with thousands of four-wheelers riding around, and folks from everywhere. I should mention there was a lot of dust and me, I was selling hot dogs!
I saw friends from Laurel County, Harlan, Whitley, Rockcastle, and cousins from Knox County. Folks were from Claiborne County, Tenn., and I met people I didn’t know from Indiana, Georgia and even Michigan. They had gathered for a “Holler Crawler” event or it was called something like that and we were all on Mountain Drive off of U.S. 119 in Bell County. It was here that I met Jacob, Clay and Cody.
After standing on my feet, on gravels, I discovered a need to make this task of selling hot dogs fun and I had started speaking and even singing a little jingle I had made up.
“Hot dogs, chips and a soda $5, best deal on the hill and I will even squirt the mustard.”
Most folks would listen, laugh and smile, and yes, I did sell a lot of mountain specials too. It was my way of having fun, and I considered it a challenge to get the attention of some folks and to see if I could get them to smile.
It was during my routine that I spotted these three, Jacob, Clay and Cody. The skinniest of the three (I would later learn to be Jacob) responded to my little jingle with “man I would love a hot dog but I am broke, I don’t have any money.”
It was then my Christian compassion set in and, thinking he and his friends might starve to death, I said okay, come on over and I will pay for it.
The conversation was free flowing then, we were smiling and laughing and I was having a blast, and I’m pretty sure they were too. It was then, the theory of “Six Degrees of Separation” kicked in.
We older folks know what the first questions we ask of a young person, “Who are your parents?” “Where are you from?”
I am pretty sure most teenagers understand and immediately are sizing us up as old and outdated. Such as maybe the case, nevertheless I was going to use this moment of fun to meet three new folks in this big world and this journey called life, and I am glad I did.
I am including them as a part of my “Thanks-giving” because of the experience.
Now when I write that Jacob was the skinny one, he is. Later when I met his father I said do you all feed this kid at home, looks like he’s starving. You should know we were laughing at great levels of fun knowing I was pretty sure he was being fed at home, but was just a bean pole in size.
I should share that my impression was that he was a smart bean pole and was keeping up with conversation, questions and we were having a lot of fun. In the rapid fire conversation we were connecting on all kinds of fronts. From his German background to his parents work, and even on food, it was connection time.
Clay Greene was not excluded from the conversation. He was laughing and he has a great sense of humor and love for good fun too. You know how we are here in the mountains. When you discover that you have connections for distant cousins, you claim kin. I did with Clay, naming him my new found cousin because of the Greene Family and a connection with cousins of mine.
I connected with Cody Fee because of my love for a Route 44 Limeade from Sonic! It could be that Cody is the smartest one out of the three since he had a job, was working and had cash. I’ll leave that debate for these three to hammer out later.
Jacob, Clay and Cody make my list of “Thanks-giving” because they represent the best of young people.
They are bright, intelligent, fun, can carry on a conversation, have opinions, can debate and they too were seizing a single moment of life, making the best of it.
That was impressive to me. I haven’t seen them since, and may never see them again, but I hope not.
I look forward to writing 20 years from now about their successes and when I met them on a mountain top.