Posts Tagged ‘Concord’

The kindness (and cooking) of strangers

August 25, 2009
Good Samaritans Steve and Diane of Concord, NC

Good Samaritans and awesome cooks, Steve and Diane of The Ibis in Concord

It was bound to happen. I’m in and out of my car at least a dozen times a day, sometimes double that, while researching my farm-travel guidebook to North Carolina. In a series of events not worth explaining, with only my cell phone in my hand, I locked my keys in the car. ARGH…. I called Better World Club (better version of AAA) and waited for help.

Meanwhile, I was starving. I was surrounded by food, most of it raw, as I’d just arrived at the farmers’ market on the NC Research Campus in Kannapolis (there’s a whole other story to that). But one table really caught my eye, or should I say nose — take-out Caribbean-influenced dishes. I told the woman there, Diane, that I’d be back as soon as I could get my wallet out of my car.

The Farmers' Market in Kannapolis is open May 7 - October 29, Thursday evenings 4-7 pm

The Farmers' Market in Kannapolis; open May 7 - Oct 29, Thursday evenings 4-7 pm

The market closed before my car was opened. I was so sad. Until Steve, Diane’s husband/partner walked over and said “what do you want to eat?” They gave me two containers full of amazing food — herbed chicken breast with crunchy veggies in a curry sauce, and a bean and meat dish. They refused to let me later send them a check. They said they had had a restaurant in Concord, NC, called The Ibis but that now they were only catering. If you’re in the area, hire them, or visit them at the farmers’ market.

200908_35_Concord_The IbisThank you, Steve and Diane. If I’m back at the market, I’m *buying* your awesome meals to go and giving you a big, big tip. But I know what you really want me to do is pay it forward, and so I shall.

When Mother Nature checked in for the night

July 30, 2009

I arrived at the Hampton Inn & Suites in Concord, NC, (just north of Charlotte) last week all happy. I had my work planned out for the next day and life was good. I’m not sure I’d ever stayed at a Hampton Inn, and I was pleasantly surprised by how nice it was. Funky little artistic touches, everything was clean, the free wireless worked, the lobby was inviting. People were even hanging out there.

Man balances on his heels wading through the water

Guest entering second-floor room practices feet-raised-through-puddle maneuver

About half an hour later, a giant storm blew up, first thunder and lightening, then driving rain, and then hail. Being a storm lover, I had to go see it for myself. I was on the fifth floor, the top, and took the elevator down to the lobby. I was alone, save for a guy puffing away on his cigarette. Rain poured down in sheets and lightening crackled. I clung to the cement post, thinking, if this were metal, I would not be out here.

The storm waxed and waned a couple times and finally I headed back to my room, commenting to the desk clerk, “That was a great storm!” She said something like, “are you kidding me?” Then she relayed what I said to someone else behind the desk.

All hotel guests were evacuated after the fire alarm went off

All hotel guests were evacuated until firefighters could check out the situation

Soon, I understood her reaction. Further down the hall, water was pouring down a wall. Pouring. A guest in the hall said, “you should see the second floor.” I walked toward the two elevators and one had water dripping down the outside. I took the stairs. The hallway was under water. Not a lot at all, but still. Ick. Thirty minutes later the fire alarm went off and we were all evacuated for 30 minutes or so until firefighters arrived to decide whether we could stay.

Guest are leaving for dryer grounds

Some guests had to leave for a drier hotel

One couple I talked to had taken the elevator pre-evacuation and once they reached their floor, the doors wouldn’t open. Somehow they managed to pull them open. Yikes! I used to have major elevator paranoia, so the thought of that freaks me out. Meanwhile, several of the ceiling panels buckled under the weight of the water from the second floor, which now had fully flowed to the first-floor hallway and part of the lobby.

The firefighters has a busy night in Concord

The Hampton Inn was but one of the many stops firefighters had on this stormy night

Long story short, the firefighters gave us the OK to return to our rooms, though most people on the first two floors had to go to a different hotel, which the Hampton Inn folks arranged for them. I heard different theories as to why the leaks occurred, but never anything official. Bottom line: too much water came down in too short of a time. There were flash floods all over Concord, as well as a few other evacuations.

I was in bed by 1 a.m., thinking, no way will we be getting breakfast. Wrong. In the morning, except for damp carpet and barrels under holes in the ceiling, everything was in order, with fresh coffee brewing and food laid out. Amazing. I heard several customers checking out, with the desk clerk offering them a full credit for their stay —  and several of them refusing! That is a powerful testament to the notion that if you treat customers right, they’re much less likely to be cranky. (Airlines, take note.)

Giant fans and dehumidifiers were used to dry the hallways

Industrial-strength fans and dehumidifiers were used to dry the hallways and rooms

By the next morning, a disaster-response company called Advance Catastrophe Technologies  was there in full force, drying the hallways and rooms with giant fans and dehumidifiers. It was a class act. Because the Hampton Inn is a franchise operation under the Hilton umbrella, I can’t speak to others, but the Concord site did things right. Though no one, of course, can control what happens when Mother Nature checks in for the night.