The Friendliest Place on Earth

I had just moved to Boise. I didn’t know my way around yet… Where should I do my grocery shopping? Where’s the nearest post office?  What church should I attend? Time to get started, I drove to the local Winco ready to conduct my first “audition.” Perhaps this would be my new grocery store.

The store was huge, but nicely laid out, and the prices were reasonable. So far, Winco remained in the running! When I had checked off everything on my rather long list, I headed toward the checkout. I hadn’t realized this was one of those bag-your-own-groceries places, so that threw me a bit off my game, but I kept up with the cashier. I was regaling in my prowess when the clerk reported the total. “Not bad,” I thought to myself and handed her my credit card. “Oh, we don’t take credit cards here—just checks and cash.” I sure didn’t have enough cash, and I knew I didn’t have any checks as I had just opened an account at my new bank. Now, what was I going to do?

I explained to the clerk that I had the funds, I just couldn’t produce it in the forms they accepted. I could go to my bank and get a temporary check, but I didn’t even know how to get there from here. That’s when the woman in line behind me spoke up: “I’ll give you a ride to your bank. Let me pay for my things and then we’ll go.”

I was a bit rattled and certainly did not want to make matters worse by inconveniencing a stranger. I told her that although that was very kind of her, it wouldn’t be necessary. I’d call someone in my family. She assured me that it was no problem—and made it apparent that we were going. Within 20 minutes, Tillie drove me to my new bank, waited while I got a temporary check, and took me back to Winco to retrieve my groceries. Back in the parking lot, we gave each other a hug and parted ways.

I couldn’t get over the kindness shown by this stranger. I’ve retold that story many times. What a great encounter in my new hometown! At first, my family admonished me for getting into a car with a complete stranger, but then they told their friends who lived elsewhere they should all move to Boise … the friendliest place on Earth!

Fast-forward a few years. I had recently transferred my former membership to a women’s philanthropic organization over to a Boise chapter. I was really enjoying making new friends, again noticing the friendliness of Boise residents. One of the optional activities is called “Lunch Bunch.”  Still being a relative newcomer, I find it to be a great way to try different restaurants while socializing on an informal level. We had one of our largest crowds last week at Lucky 13. One of the gals had invited a neighbor, who used to be a member in a different state, to join us. She was interested in joining a Boise chapter. She and I sat next to each other and fell into easy conversation. I just couldn’t get over the feeling we had met before. And she felt the same way, which made the two of us start brainstorming of when our paths may have crossed. And then it dawned on us at the same time—“Tillie!” “Marge!” “Winco!”

We couldn’t believe our good fortune! This time, we will not be going our separate ways. I will be there this fall when Tillie renews her membership. We look forward to getting to know each other better as we attend meetings and partake in events.

As I reflect on this story, I can’t help thinking about that kindness of a stranger. Do things like this happen in other places, or is Boise the friendliest place on Earth? I have lived many places over the years, yet my answer remains a resounding “Yes”! And that’s not just based on the Winco experience. I feel that way when I go to the mall, downtown, to the bank, to church, on the greenbelt. People are warm and welcoming. I feel so fortunate to say that, as there are no more moves for my husband and me. We’re retired now and look forward to many years in Boise: the friendliest place on Earth.