The Kindness of Clovis

posted in: Day In The Life 14
The famous “Gateway to the Sierras” suspended street sign in Clovis. Photo: Me.


I woke up in California today.

Specifically, I woke up in California’s San Joaquin Valley, in Fresno County, in the town of Clovis. I had a gig this weekend and the gig was marvelous. Lecture went great; class went great. All was merry and bright, except that I wasn’t feeling terribly well when I arrived on Friday. But what can you do? You keep calm; you carry on. By the time the class ended yesterday, however, sleeping for about 12 hours seemed like a real smart thing to do. And that’s what I thought I would do, except when the incandescent Jessi and the captivating Vicki (who I have a feeling is going to help me find my puppy, y’all) dropped me off at my hotel, I had to change plans. It was only 4 p.m. and I knew that if I fell asleep right that minute, I’d wake up at 9 p.m. and then … cut to 2 a.m. and I’m up, eatin’ chips … and potentially missing my 6:30 a.m. flight. No bueno.

“Fons,” I said, sitting down on the edge of the bed in my room. “Fons.”

“Yes?” I answered myself, weary, dreading what I was going to say.

“You’re a five-minute walk to downtown Clovis, Fons. C’mon! Go down there and check it out! It’s that cool, old town kinda thing, remember? It looked so neat when you drove through yesterday.”

“I am not feeling very well,” I said. “And my contacts are so crispy.”

“Wear your glasses.”

I whined. “It’s sunnnnnnny.”

“Stop it. One hour, tops. Take some pictures. You’re behind on your Instagram.”

I knew I was right, so I heaved me off the bed. I took out my contacts; I put on my glasses. I got a totebag and made sure my phone had a charge. I put on my flip-flops, stuck my hotel key in my pocket, and out I went.

Downtown Clovis was neat. There was lots to see: tons of antique stores; great old signs; good-lookin’ restaurants; a men’s store that has been in business since 1900 or something bananas like that. And it was Winter Formal or something, so I saw a some high school couples out in their finery. As I walked around this street and that, I realized how much I was enjoying myself, how I felt better just by doing “nothing.” Please believe me that I do not see it as some badge of honor that I cannot remember the last time I had an hour or two like that, just walking, taking pictures, doing nothing, totally off the clock. I’m so rarely ever, ever off the clock. But I was, in Clovis yesterday, for just over an hour. I’m glad it happened, glad I convinced myself to go for it.

But when the sun began to slip away around 6:30 or so, I realized I was on empty, for real this time. I needed water, too. I kept thinking I’d find a Walgreen’s or a CVS and my plan was to buy two big bottles of Perrier and a bag of popcorn and that would be my dinner. You know how sometimes, that’s the best dinner? Just popcorn. Well, I walked and walked and … Nothing. I started looking for a tiny market shop or even a liquor store, but no dice. I decided to just walk on out of town and back to my hotel, but this was the pits! Surely there was a place nearby I could get a bottle of water and a bag of popcorn.

I saw a woman walking a few paces ahead of me. “Excuse me, Miss?” I said. “I’m sorry; could you tell me if there’s a Walgreen’s nearby or something like it?”

“Oh, well, let’s see,” the woman said, and she pointed down the main road. “I think there’s one down that way … Maybe just a couple miles down?”

I thanked her and shook my head. “I’m on foot, I’m afraid. I’m here for the quilt show and just thought I’d come walk around a little, find some snacks. No worries! Thank you for your help.”

“Oh, I’m a quilter!” the woman said. “Want me to give you a lift? I’m happy to do it.”

Mind you, this lady didn’t know who I was. She sort of knew about Fons & Porter (and when I told her about Quiltfolk she was very excited) but she’s new to the whole thing and is just getting into longarming. So this wasn’t a “Oh! Oh my goodness! It’s Mary Fons! Eee! Do you need a ride??” kind of a thing. No, this lovely woman — Pam — gave a complete stranger/out-of-towner a ride to get popcorn and water simply because that’s the kind of person she is. Can you believe it? She didn’t know me from Eve! When I told her how grateful I was that she was taking the time to help me out, she shrugged it off and said:

“Honey, I’m a Christian. It’s my job.”

That’s my kinda Christian, Pam. And downtown Clovis, that’s my kind of sightseeing.

Well done, all.