Guilderland Travel Plaza is a charming rest stop on the NY State Thruway at mile post 153 Eastbound. Sitting between the Schenectady and Albany exits, it’s a great place to stop if you need gas, food, washrooms, or even a nice place to sit for a while. It’s also the place I had one of the most magical experiences of my life.
Driving to New York with a cast up to my knee required a little more resting than we would usually do. As we approached this rest stop, I knew I needed a break. Darling Hubby got out the wheelchair and helped me into it so I could make my way to the ladies’ room. (I didn’t want him to wheel me there because we won’t leave our precious pup alone in the car.)
“Piece of cake,” I thought. I know the rest stops have buttons to open the door for wheelchairs. But before I could roll myself to the button, a young lady came running out and did it for me. She was employed by the rest stop (McDonalds?) and she took the handles of the chair and pushed me all the way to the ladies’ room. When I came out of the stall, she was waiting for me and pushed me over to the sink, even handing me paper towels.
I was so touched by this kindness, I wanted her to know how much I appreciated it. A tip wasn’t enough – I wanted her to know what it meant to me. When I tried to thank her, she didn’t respond. And then… it happened….
She gestured to me that she couldn’t hear. Well, it’s been quite some time since Darling Hubby and I took American Sign Language and I thought I had forgotten it, but the next thing I knew I was back in Cody’s class and signed, “you deaf?” That’s it – two little words and her face lit up like sun in the sky. “Yes, yes,” she signed, her fist bobbing in front of her.
She wheeled me outside and I turned to face her. We then “talked” for about 10 minutes in ASL, the highlight of my day, if not hers too. She told me how much she enjoys working at the Guilderland Travel Plaza – how wonderful the people are to her, how grateful she is to be there. And then she introduced me to her friend, who also works there – and is also deaf. I introduced them to Darling Hubby and the four of us “chatted” a little bit more.
I thanked her again for her kindness and she thanked me for talking to her. We all waved and smiled and felt good inside. “God bless you,” was the last thing she signed to me and I truly felt he did. And as Darling Hubby pulled out of our parking space, I took a picture:
Stop at Guilderland if you’re anywhere near it. Even when things are feeling overwhelming and hard, magic still happens.