Most of the stories and such from our visit to Akron for Adventures in Stamping will occupy a single post, but this one deserves a space of its own. Most of you never see the behind the scenes interaction between the vendors at a show. There are exceptions, of course, but most of us have become a family over the years as we travel around the country together. The family composition changes from time to time as old friends leave the circuit and not-yet-but-soon-will-be friends join. There are only three or four vendors left on the circuit who were there when we started in 1997. One of them is Ted Cutts – and he saved our weekend.
It started last week when I was going back and forth to downtown Dayton to pick up loads of surplus paper that Gary scrounged. Two or three times, I noticed that it took a little too long for the truck to start – the starter worked fine, but the motor didn’t “catch” as quickly as it should. And I made a mental note to have it checked when I got back from Akron.
Thursday, I spent the morning helping Ryan take possession of his new Jeep Wrangler (it’s a 2004, but it’s new to him and fulfills his lifelong goal – that’s another story for another time). Then I loaded the truck, stopped by the house about 7:30 to say goodbye, and headed to Akron. Noticed again that the truck took a little longer to start than it should as I left the house. And I drove the 3 1/2 hours to Akron and didn’t think about it again.
I also didn’t stop along the way, which ended up being a good thing. When I arrived in the Akron suburb where we were staying, I discovered that our hotel was being renovated and was absolutely unfit for human habitation. So we left to find another hotel – except the truck wouldn’t start. Same issue as before, but the engine wouldn’t catch. I called the local International dealer, but they were getting ready to close so I had no choice but to get a room nearby and tackle the problem in the morning. My last thought as I went to sleep was that I was thankful I didn’t stop for a snack on the way to Akron – I could have gotten stranded at an exit and spent the night there instead.
The International dealer opened at 7:00 on Friday, so at 6:55 I was sitting in the truck for one last attempt to start it, ready to call as they opened to beg for a service call. And it started! I immediately recalculated my blessings and added one, and headed for the International dealer. Didn’t even turn off the ignition when I got there – just described the problem and went to the lounge to wait.
I found out later that the mechanic moved the truck into a service bay and turned off the motor – and then it wouldn’t start again. Wow . . .
It took two hours to diagnose the problem, and this is my best auto-speak diagnosis – it was an oil pressure something or other that affected the fuel injectors. Long story short, it was affecting getting the truck started, but would have eventually caused the truck to completely shut down while driving down the interstate. The repair involved replacing a bunch of little rubber o-rings and was going to take four more hours. By now, it was 9:30 a.m. and we were going to start setting up at 8:00. So I called Karen at the convention center and broke the news to her.
And Ted Cutts enters the picture (speaking of which, this is an old shot of him from last year in Rhinebeck, New York). Ted owns Art Gone Wild and Inky Antics and Stampers Anonymous and Darcie’s Country Folk – and he is the only vendor on the circuit who has a truck that is as big as ours. He grabbed the phone from Karen and told me to get to the convention center, take his truck, and go back to International and get as much of our stuff as we needed so we could start setting up while the truck was repaired. And he even sent one of his workers along to help me move several tons of booth between trucks.
Because of his generosity, we were able to get the booth completely set up before the convention center closed for the evening. We have helped each other often over the years, but this was way above and beyond the call. This weekend, I have told a lot of people that Ted Cutts is my hero – he is also my friend, and I treasure his friendship.