By Amy Snover
(Editor’s note: Longtime valley resident Kurt Snover died on Oct. 29, 2021. This column was submitted by his daughter Amy.)
The last thing I heard from my dad was his text: “Amy, I have a most amazing story to tell, about my experience 2 days ago at Hank’s. Let me know when it’s convenient and I’ll call you.”
That was a Thursday. I was busy with work and family and planned to call him on the weekend when I had time to talk. But I never got to hear him tell me the story, as he died unexpectedly the very next day, while out walking on a cold and clear October Friday evening near his home in Winthrop. The thought that I might never know what amazing thing happened at Hank’s, that one of my dad’s last joys might always be a mystery to me, was another loss on top of the grief over the sudden end of a life that we all thought had many, many more miles left in it.
Luckily for me, my dad was so enchanted by what had happened to him that he had already told the story far and wide. He had told it my mom. He told their book club. He told his beer group. And, after he died, they all told me.
It’s a story of the kindness of strangers and the fabric of care that underlies this community. It’s a story of an experience that filled his heart with love for the place he was lucky enough to call home.
He’d also taken the time to write it down, planning to use it for his regular column in the Methow At Home newsletter (published posthumously this month). It’s a story he wanted everyone to hear. Here it is:
“I had a most amazing Valley experience after getting a Moderna booster shot at Ulrich’s in Twisp, when I stopped in Hank’s Market to pick up a few items. When I went to check out, my credit card wasn’t accepted. It was a card I hadn’t used for months, so I probably should have realized the need to be cautious, but I didn’t. And, I didn’t have any cash in my wallet.
“An older fellow was in line behind me, someone I’d never seen before, almost certainly a local. He said to me, ‘No worries, I’ll pay for your groceries.’ What, I thought to myself? I’ve never seen this man before. I effusively thanked him, saying no need, as I expected Hank’s would just write me an IOU and I’d pay my bill the next time I came in.
“I was sent to the help desk, where I explained my situation to the woman behind the counter. She whipped out several gift cards that other customers had purchased and left with her and said these would cover my grocery bill. These were cards with the recipient’s name left blank, to be given by Hank’s to people in need. Well, I didn’t want to take charity, so I asked the woman how I could repay the favor. She said the next time I come to Hank’s, I should just buy a gift card or two and leave them with her.
“Amazing enough, but, dear reader, my story doesn’t end here. As I’m talking to the woman, I remember that the empty gas tank light was on as I drove down to Twisp. I’m afraid that I’ll run out of gas on my way home if I don’t buy some in Twisp, as, of course, I had planned to do using my credit card. The woman asks me, ‘How much do you need?’ I replied that $20 would cover it. She pulls out her personal wallet, takes a $20 bill out and hands it to me.
“As I write this, it is now two days later and I think about this experience constantly. To say it was an eye-opener is a huge understatement. I am still floored.
“How does one understand this? I think there are two important factors. One is the small, friendly rural valley we live in, where we care about each other’s welfare even if we don’t know them. The second is Hank’s Market and the staff. I have always enjoyed shopping at Hank’s, both for the quality of the produce and for the friendly helpful staff. It’s clear that Hank treats his employees well. But now I understand that Hank’s is so much more than a really good grocery store. It’s a place that helps those in need.
“I’ve resolved to buy a gift card and donate it to Hank’s every time I shop there from now on. What an easy way to help the less fortunate. And to pay forward my grateful experience. And, of course, I will pay back the $20 personal loan from the clerk who never even asked me my name.
“I am so thankful I live in this valley.”
After my dad died, our family was able to identify, thank and repay the kind Hank’s employee who had given my dad $20 and the gift of awe and appreciation for the goodness that surrounds us all.