But of all the people that we have met over the 5 years that we have been doing stands, the ‘gentleman’ that we were temporary neighbors to, by far is the most memorable. I highly doubt that we will ever forget this ummm, experience.
For the past 4 seasons, we have been at a 30′ long stand out in the valley. We have grown a great clientele; we are known for being very family friendly and stocking ‘excessive’ amounts of novelty fireworks (is there such a thing?LOL!) for the kids. It has been our niche.
This year, however, we passed that stand on to Greg…
Some dear friends of ours generously loaned him their camper, and he bached
it for the 12 days that it takes to run a stand. He ate way too many peanut butter and honey sandwiches (his fav
), and drank gallons and gallons of Powerade
, but he survived. I think that it was a great chance for this mom to see that her big, little boy can do just fine on his own. I actually didn’t worry about him nearly as much as I thought that I would!!! And he did great job on his own, with his own stand!
Initially he was to take the new-to-us stand, but it ended up being about 40′ long and would be more difficult to man himself. Thus, we moved a few miles away to a new spot. A new, not-so-family-friendly spot. At least not OUR family family-friendly.
It all began when we pulled into the parking lot behind the new stand, 10 days before the 4th. To comply with fire code, we must be parked at least 50 feet away from the stand, which put us about 50 feet away from a mobile home with a 20 something tenant that was none to happy to see us. He immediately came flying out of his trailer yelling at us that we couldn’t park there – it is private property, and we need to move NOW! Totally blows off any reply of ours until I am following his sagging britches to his house asking where the ‘firework people’ usually park. Then, with a few dark looks, and some unfriendly muttering sounds, he relents, and then proceeds to warn us (hoping we will leave) that there will be a lot of traffic in and out of his house due to his business. Lucky us, we get to park by a:
MEDICAL MARIJUANA DEALER!!!
I am so not kidding, and was so not happy either!
Lately, there is actually quite a stir here in MT over the whole legal pot dealer thing. Some law was passed that allowed it (which they are quickly trying to alter), and now (obviously) just anyone CAN sell it. And by the ‘patients’ going in and out, just anyone can get a prescription. The people going in and out were quite an eye opening for us! Don’t believe it when they feed you rhetoric about all those poor upstanding clean-cut citizens who just need a fix to get them over their pain! These ‘patients’ were scary! Not people that I really want my children parked next to, especially when I can’t even SEE my children all the time!
Anyway, throughout the week and a half that we were parked there, things slowly escalated from bad to worse, though we are not sure how they did, or why, or what we did… We tried to be kind and give him space, which was really hard when our camper is facing his yard! We made sure to keep our blinds closed on his side, and set the picnic table up on the other side of the camper even though there was no shade there…made sure the kids played on ‘our’ side, tried to be quiet, parked way out of the way… yet still, we ended up having another confrontation with him where he claimed that we were spying on him (hello!, I don’t even have time to snuggle Molly for these 11 days, let alone check out what he’s up to!) among other things. It was crazy! It was also a great chance for the kids to see that it takes 2 to fight, that a soft answer turneth away wrath, that it is possible to care for your enemies.
It was also sad. I couldn’t help but feel bad for him – he must be really hurting to be so bitter and angry inside. We tried to reason with him, and talk to him, and finally just had to tell him to take it up with the landlord – we couldn’t do anything to please him (and we weren’t leaving.). All we could do was to continue to take it to God, and prayed for safety, and that we would somehow be a vessel for His glory.
I asked the kids to pray for our temporary neighbor, and we just determined to be nice to him no matter what (tho that doesn’t mean that we wouldn’t defend ourselves). We didn’t know if he was just a hateful person, was going through a stressful time, or was being convicted about the lifestyle he was living (and raising his precious 2 year old in). We just tried to give him the benefit of the doubt as we would want others to give to us.
One day, just a couple of days before the 4th
, Vaughn was walking over to the storage unit where we keep our extra stock of fireworks, and the guy approached Vaughn and apologized for his behaviour. It was a complete bout-face! It was really incredible to see ‘heaping coals’ at work! He and Vaughn talked a few times, and he even asked Vaughn if it would bother the kids if he set off some fireworks! Kinda weird, and very incredible
!!! Then, on the 4th
, Vaughn saw that he was lighting some artillery shells, so Vaughn took him a box from us, and then the guy came over with his little girl, and bought her some fountains. It was like he was a whole different person, and I was so bummed that it was the 4th
! Now, I actually can’t wait until next year – I hope that he is still there; we will start on much better terms (I hope!!!), and maybe we can get to know him better.
One thing that we came face to face with on our trip, going to so many different places instead of staying in our comfort zone, was that there are so many hurting people out there. Sometimes they need physical help, but many times they just need encouragement, a listening ear, to know that someone cares about them…
And while I will still not be thrilled to be parked next to a Medical Marijuana Caregivers
office(?), I will be happy to get to know the person better!
This year, Hannah could sell since she is 18, so she took the stand a lot for me – I could run errands, help out in the camper (even though Bethy
did an awesome job holding down the fort!), and even sleep in
Emma about drove us nuts in the stand – it IS possible to be TOO helpful!!! She would come visit us when it wasn’t busy, and if we did have a customer, she would bag their fireworks. Most of the customers got a kick out of her enthusiasm and would ask her whether she liked to work in the stand, which of course she did, and that would, unfailingly, lead to them asking her which firework was her favorite. Her never changing answer was ‘the pink ones’. Then, they would (nearly always!) ask her to pick one out for them! She would take them straight to the pink birthday candles (like she had on her cake) – and most bought them (at $5 ea.) while I am trying to ensure them that her feelings would not be hurt if they didn’t really need a pink birthday candle!
She is quite a little salesman.
And made a killing in tips!
We really enjoy selling fireworks every year. Usually, by the end of the 11 days, we are very ready to be done… not so sick of it that we don’t want to do it next year, but not wanting to do it anymore this year either!
It can be exhausting…
And we were ALL tuckered out by the 4th!!!
Too many late nights, cup o’ noodles for lunch, and hours upon hours of movie watching (since playing outside wasn’t such a great idea here!)…
I love to run a firework stand every year – maybe it’s that it is so very different from my ‘everyday life’, maybe it’s the busyness, or the kids’ excitement over the fireworks. Maybe though, it’s the people we get to meet. Even the temporary, unique neighbors that we get to live next to. This neighbor is one that I hope and pray that I get to run into at the store (or where-ever) before our time here is up for the summer. I would like to extend that hand of friendship again, because life isn’t about the stuff we accumulate, or the job that we go to day after day, or even the experiences that we get to experience. Life is about the people that we meet, the people that we can encourage, that we can minister to. And that is what I enjoy the most about the OTR life that I lead – the incredible, varied, individual people that we get to meet!