Friday, October 29, 2010

Kum and Go: the gas station

We had a long drive, a very long drive, between Chicago and Grand Island, Nebraska. We must have somehow read the distance incorrectly because man those 10 hours were wicked. At first the scenery was lovely. Then it was occasionally nice. Then it was 'one freaking field after another'. Like a Roadrunner cartoon, it seemed like the same fields were maliciously passing us by.

The spirit of Halloween even entered our imagination. I had just closed the door of the car after having gone in to use the washroom. The wheelchair, as if guided by a wicked spirit hand, twisted left, twisted right, and then ran hell bent for leather at the car door behind which I was sitting screaming. It rammed against the car and was rolling back from the force only to be heading back towards me, quicker this time. Joe heard me screaming and ran over to stop the chair in it's bloodthirsty attack. The winds were wicked through that area and my wheelchair became possessed by the spirit of the wind. It was hard not to take it personally, like the chair was saying, 'would it hurt to loose a pound or two, huh, HUH?'

When it was next time for gas we ensured that we locked the chair whenever I was out of it. No more Stephen King experiences in the midst of cornfields. We were at a gas station called, oddly, 'kum and go' ... my first thought was of death - yeah, those two words describe what I would think to be the best way to leave this earth, kum ... and ... go.

It was a new store and there were two cut curbs to choose from. One into a restaurant, one into a convenience store. We entered the store and headed straight to the washroom. Back in the store, the aisle were wide and shopping was easy. We got everything we needed for the next part of the trip, if one could actually need jalapeno and process cheese roll ups that were fried crisp in a tortilla. (Maybe my wheelchair had a point.)

One of the staff helped us carry stuff to the car. She confessed that when she started there she thought the cut curbs were silly and the managers insistence that the aisles be wide enough for people in wheelchairs to get around were simply misguided (that's not exactly how she put it). Then I came into the store and she saw me leisurely pushing around the store going up and down aisles picking up stuff. She got it instantly, she said, 'Its just the way we can say 'welcome' to the store, 'glad you are here' ... isn't it.'

I told her that most stores did not have managers that insisted on welcome. My bet that if he is welcoming to me, he'll be welcoming to all, and probably be overall an good boss. She thought for a second, and said, 'you know he is, my husband says that Glen is kind right through.'

And that's it isn't it. Those with the capacity of welcome, the capacity to think of people yet to come and to prepare to make them comfortable, that's the indicator of someone with great soul and great heart. We're going to try and stop there on the way back for gas. We figure if he bothers to say welcome, we should stop and shop as a way of saying, 'thank you'.

Kum and Go, because of that experience, I will, as often as possible.


Belinda said...

I loved being in the middle of the windy plains of the U.S. with you and visiting Kum and Go!

And so good that the way was smooth at the gas station.

Tamara said...

Great to hear of such a good experience. "Nice" just isn't that difficult. Wish there was more of it -

Liz Miller said...


Leah Spring said...

Wow...posessed wheelchairs! Who woulda thunk it? Yay for Kum and Go! When I was at one in NJ, it was like being on an episode of "The Twilight Zone". You're not allowed to pump your own gas there, or something. It was really strange. I didn't know what to do or how to act. And everything is was a one way. And I was all confused. Seriously, I might as well have been trying to drive in London or something. That's my Kum and Go story.

ivanova said...

Love this post! I felt like I was on that trip.

BTW, Leah, you aren't allowed to pump your own gas in all of NJ, not just at Kum & Go. I think the idea is it keeps thousands of people employed, and it's just part of the culture of NJ at this point.

Kyle J. Krause said...

Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Dave. The staff you've described represent the core values we aim to instill in each of our associates. Our customers trust us to provide convenience and a friendly atmosphere, but without the support of our associates we wouldn't be able to deliver on that commitment.

It's wonderful to hear from customers like yourself that appreciate our dedication to service, as it's something we pride ourselves on delivering. In fact, it speaks directly to something my father, one of our co-founders, has always said about our company: "People make the difference and the difference is Kum & Go people."

Again, thanks for stopping at our store and sharing your appreciation on your blog. It means a lot to see our associates delivering on Kum & Go's promise.

Kyle J. Krause
President and CEO, Kum & Go

Andrea S. said...

Kyle J. Krause:

Thank YOU for ensuring that store personnel understand that customers with disabilities deserve a "convenient" and "friendly" atmosphere as much as anyone else--and that, for customers with disabilities, "convenient" and "friendly" INHERENTLY MEANS a place that is ACCESSIBLE.

This probably seems like a very simple concept for you. After all--you obviously get it: accessible = convenient and friendly.

But so many, many, many business owners cannot get this simple equation into their heads. When they hear "accessible" they aren't thinking "friendly and convenient" they're thinking "That's too much trouble." They see it as something "special." They don't get that accessibility isn't "special" -- accessibility just means ensuring that people with disabilities can receive the SAME services as everyone else on the same basis, just in a different way because they NEED to do certain things in a different way. Kyle J. Krause, sir, you are more rare than I think you really realize.

Thank you to Dave for "introducing" us to a store (alas, not here in the US!) that seems to get what accessibility means at a basic level.

Pink Doberman said...

You've driven right past my home on your trip!

I am super glad that you had a great experience in Nebraska! It is generally a great state to live in.

I hope you have a safe journey!

Dave Hingsburger said...

Andrea, Kum and Go is in Nebraska so it is in the 'good ol' USA! I liked your equation of convienient and friendly with accessible, you are right!

Dave Hingsburger said...


If I may be so bold as to call you Kyle. What a surprise your comment was! I never, ever, expected that a simple blog post would reach so deeply into a company. I appreciate the time you took to write. The fact that there are so many 'bad' stories about inaccessiblity to tell makes it important that we celebrate stories of accessibility. It's not said clearly in my post but accessibility is mostly an adaption in attitude, your note proves that point. Thanks again.