Columns 2017

That for which I am grateful

My tires were at Johnson’s Tires when they unexpectedly closed down. Despite extensive searching, they were never found. So I guess that old saying of mine still is true – if it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all. But rather than letting this get me down, I’ve decided to look for that proverbial pony in the pile of manure. And I’ve found many.

I have to start off with Northrim Bank and their staff who probably never took Tires 101 when they were in Bank College. They tried so hard to help and were always so gracious and regretful when my search once again turned up empty. It reminded me again of why I am so glad I switched banks.

I once was a customer at the big national bank in town. It didn’t take long to decide there had to be a better way. There is. It’s called banking locally. While I think Northrim is just about the best thing going in Alaska’s banking world, I hear many debates on the merits of multiple local banks and credit unions. I’ve noticed a distinct pattern in theses debates. I’d say a good ninety percent of the positive issues being addressed revolve around how nice it is to do business with a local entity.

Given the fiasco at Johnson’s Tires these past weeks, I’m also grateful for local legislators who actually believe in serving the people. Harriet Drummond was the first to respond to my Facebook post about Johnson’s Tires. She was helpful, supportive, full of good suggestions and, most importantly, able to connect on a human level with the crap that goes with a situation like this.

That brings me to the State’s Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit. Although they really do need to update their communications so that complaints can be filed by fax or email as opposed to printing out and mailing the form, that was the only glitch in the system. Once they received my complaint, they immediately responded. Their constant input and support kept me from feeling so alone as I accepted that I’d never see my tires again.

This leads me to the third thing for which I am grateful. I am grateful that the loss of those tires and my limited ability to just run out and buy four new tires and rims has led me to finally try something I have been wanting to attempt for years. I will try to make it through the winter on my all season tires so that I am not a contributor to the destruction of our roads by studs. I understand that people who live in the hilly areas of town have little choice but to use studs if they ever hope to get up their driveway between November and April; but for those of us who live in the flatter areas of town, they might not be so critical.

I am also thankful this Thanksgiving for friends that you can say goodbye to three times and know that they will always return. This past month I said goodbye to two friends who left Alaska. The first time I said goodbye to them, they were leaving Barrow. The second time, they left Anchorage for warmer climes but dad still came up for work. This third time should feel as though it is really the finale. But I know it isn’t. Because one of the things for which I am most grateful is the friends who become family when you live in Alaska. These are friendships that no amount of goodbyes can ever end.

I am so thankful for the kindness of people who go out of their way to care for our wildlife with loving compassion. We recently released a common loon from Bird TLC that only got a second chance at life after being hit by a car because that person stopped to care for it and bring it to us. Which, if course, leads me to my eternal gratitude for all the amazing people I’ve met through the years at Bird TLC. When I’m with them, I feel more normal than I usually do. That either says something strange about them or me – take your pick.

For a state whose beauty still stuns me on a daily basis, for all my Inupiat friends who took me in for 28 years and taught me about their amazing culture, for all my Bird TLC buddies who don’t think being obsessed with birds is weird, and for all the readers who have stuck with me over thirty years of more columns than I can count – for all this, I am more grateful than I can ever really express.