Thank You, Afton, Wyoming
September 16, 2011 by eclecticwoman
Today was the last day of vacation, after a week of relaxing in Yellowstone National Park and the surrounding area. Yellowstone is one of my favorite places in the entire country — and having been to all 50 states, I have seen some wonderful sights. But Yellowstone is a place that is continuing creation in a way, since it sits atop a volcano and has incredible geothermal features. It has an inexplicable energy that permeates the park. So I was rather reluctant to leave.
Another reason for my reluctance to leave was the long drive ahead of us. We had to travel back to Salt Lake City, UT. Tomorrow we will fly from Salt Lake City back to the East Coast . . . and home. We decided to take the “low roads” back instead of the highways we had traveled to get to Yellowstone last week. We prefer being able to take breaks as well as having more interesting sights to see. We began by exiting Yellowstone through the south gate, which led us into Teton National Park. The mountains there are breathtaking.
However, after a long morning of driving (we left at 8 AM and it was now 12:30 PM) we arrived at Afton, Wyoming. We had taken this route on our first trip to Yellowstone and I remembered the antler arch that stretches across the street (see photo above). The town is quaint and historic. You can read more about it on Wikipedia (search Afton, WY) or at the town’s own website http://aftonwyoming.net
This story is not about the population (about 2000), the income levels, unemployment rates or any other demographic statistic. It is also not about how scenic Afton is nor about the activities available. It is not even about the fact that Afton, WY boasts an Olympic gold medalist (Rulon Gardner).
This story is about people behaving well, showing kindness and compassion and bringing a warm smile to me after a long ride.
We stopped at the Burger King located in Afton for one of our stretch breaks and decided to have a quick burger to hold us until we got to Salt Lake City for dinner. While my husband ordered, I chose a table and sat down. I chose the right table as things turned out.
There were 3 elderly ladies in front of my husband. As they got their orders, they were assisted by one of the Burger King employees to get their food to the table they chose directly behind me. As the party went past me, I noticed that the Burger King employee who helped them was a young woman with Down’s Syndrome. When the ladies realized that they needed ketchup, she offered to get it for them and returned with 3 small cups of ketchup on a tray. After the ketchup was delivered, one of the elderly women tipped her (no, I don’t know how much) and she was so pleased. So was I. I admire a place that respects handicapped individuals and I respect people who do the same, as the 3 elders did. They did not patronize this young women. They treated her with respect.
It was the next event that really solidified my respect for the people of Afton. After assisting the 3 women, the young woman sat at a nearby table to do a task that many would find tedious. She was stacking numerous, loose little paper cups used for ketchup into a bin. She was taking great pains to be sure the stacks were straight and neat when she accidentally bumped a stack, scattering several dozen paper cups across the floor near her feet.
The young woman was momentarily flustered. I watched in both pleasure and awe as 2 children, obviously siblings, looked at each other and then went to work. The boy and girl, in the age range of perhaps 8-11, picked up all of the stray cups off the floor and returned them to the grateful young woman. Then they simply went into the playroom to meet a parent and left.
Perhaps it seems a small thing to you. Or perhaps you expect unattended children to act like the ones I described. Personally, I don’t expect it in this day and age. I have seen far too many children who pay no attention to anyone or anything except their own interests and desires. So frankly, I thought this was a big thing. I thought to myself, “Those parents have done a terrific job of raising their children!”
There may yet be hope for the future. If parents in Afton, WY can do it right, perhaps more parents can start to figure out how to raise children who are kind, compassionate and respectful. I looked for the children and parents after I finished eating but they had already departed. I really wanted to tell the parents how proud they should be of their children. Since I couldn’t find them, I’m using this post to say what I would have said.
You must be very proud to have children who show respect and caring without being told to. They did what was helpful and kind. It may have been a small task but it was done without a second thought. They didn’t debate if they should help — they just did it. It really brought me joy to see it and I want to thank you for raising such “good” children.
If the other children in Afton are raised as well as the 2 I watched, then Afton must be a special place.