Monday, July 8, 2013

235th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,
Ron and Kelly Abbott Think of Others
Even When Big Trouble Comes Crashing
Through Their Roof

Barbara Farragut, the volunteer on 12th Street was just about to start another day of jury duty when she returned my phone call. It was 8:46 am Tuesday as I headed east and home on River Road after a no show for a food pickup. She said she would find out what happened at the bakery and get back to me. Barbara then asked if I have heard about the fire Monday at the Rincon Market.

I mostly read national news so no, I hadn’t. She said it was pretty bad and would force them to close for many months. Instead of going home I headed straight for the Rincon Market. Ron and Kelly have been very supportive of me and One Can A Week so I had to get there fast to see what I could do.

There are all kinds of ways to get into the Rincon Market parking lot. The turn I made off of Tucson Blvd. was unusual for me and I ended up in the back parking lot near the florist. There was Ron talking to a guy, the florist I supposed. I parked in the side parking lot as I always do and walked up to them. In a minute or two Ron ended his conversation and turned to me.

While waiting, I noticed the big storage like structure on the top of the Rincon Market roof. I had been in the back many times but never spotted that large building before. Walls were smashed down and the electrical stuff in there was exposed. “That’s where the fire started,” Ron said pointing to the roof.

We shook hands without speaking much as folks often do when there has been a tragedy and no one is sure what to say.

As we walked to the front of the store Ron calmly told me that he smelled smoke and told John, his son, to call 911. He then turned his attention to getting the 60 or so lunchtime customers and staff out of the smoke filled store. Ron’s voice was raspy and I asked his how he was feeling. “The thick smoke,” he said, “was and is toxic.”

Later in the day I checked out the AZStarnet and KVOA-TV news reports. They were very disturbing. Lots of smoke and flames and heat that even threatened the firefighters.
I always thought Ron was a cool customer and his reaction to this disaster proved it.

Near the yellow caution tape that blocked the entire front of the store, Ron said he was properly insured and had everything covered, lost income, property damage … everything. I thought it strange that here’s a man with a huge business problem speaking normally and at this very moment, I’m the one who felt concerned yet relieved hearing the insurance news.

More like a flashing beacon, the Food Bank collection jar at the main register was a constant reminder of the need and the responsibility we have to help the thousands of hungry kids and their parents here in Tucson
Just inside the front door that toxic smoke smell took over. It was everywhere even though all the doors were wide open. Water about a 1/4” deep covered the floor.

We ended up in front of the main cash register and Ron showed me the huge hole in the roof over the deli counter. He then reached over and handed me the Food Bank collection jar. “Here, take this,” he said with a chuckle, this is about as full as it will get for the next few months.”

Kelly, Ron’s wife and his son John, who were moving about the store when we came in, suddenly converged in front of the counter. “Wait a second, we have some more money in the office,” Kelly said. A customer told me the jars were a scam so I took them to the back until those people showed up again. They never did.”

“What money jars?” Ron asked. John echoed his dad. They had no idea what she was talking about.

Kelly dropped her purse and emptied an armload of stuff she was carrying on a nearby table. “You know, mom,” John said smiling, “those aren’t great shoes to be wearing today either.

“I know,” Kelly replied as she hurried to the back in her new white with pink trim aerobic walking shoes. I wondered what she wore yesterday that made John say something today.

In a couple of minutes, Kelly returned holding three melon-sized plastic jars, two with black lids and one with a red lid. Kelly remembered them now even in all this mess and destruction. She, too, is calm and clear headed in very stressful situations.

The rest of my Wednesday was filled with helping my friend Al take advantage of the 10% Senior Discount day at Fry’s. He’s not as mobile as he once was so I escort him while he gathers enough food to feed himself and a dozen or so cats for a month. All the while I am thinking about counting the money in those four collection jars.

We head down the can goods aisle and I saw two huge stacks of the Van Camp Pork and Beans that were on sale a week ago. (Those are the same cans Maen at the Axis Food Mart bought.) They can’t still be on sale, can they? I thought. When I got closer I saw the sign … 2 for $1.00. And there were over 18 24-can cases.

The Rincon Market was responsible for creating the seventh truck load this year. 
Around 11:30 pm Wednesday I finally wrapped and counted all the bills and coins. The total was $197.50. That would buy 395 cans weighing in at 420 lbs. The excitement quickly died down when I realized tomorrow was the 4th of July and banks are closed. How am I going to exchange the coins for bills? Turns out I didn’t need that step.

Fry’s parking lot on 22nd and Alvernon was busy and folks were hurrying in all directions.

Undaunted I walked in and found the manager conveniently talking to Daniel the assistant manager in the bakery department up front. I explained what I needed and who for and the manager told Daniel to take care of it.

Within a few minutes he had a flat bed cart next to the stack and started loading the Van Camp. I said, “I’ll be back in a minute. I have to go get the money.”

A woman maybe twenty feet down the aisle pushing a cart with a kid in the seat called out, “Oh, don’t forget to get enough for me,” she said while holding her index finger up in the air as a visual reminder.

I hustled and smiled all the way to the truck.

The cashier at the customer service window heard me tell Daniel about the situation at the Rincon Market while he rang up the sale. When she opened the bag and took out the cash she said, “Smell this.” She held the money under Daniel’s nose, “It smells like barbeque.” Proof positive … there really was a fire.

Everyone I talk to about the Rincon Market asks, “They’re going to rebuild I hope? I just love that place.”

Ron and Kelly will rebuild they told me so. All we have to do is wait and than give them twice and much business when they announce their Grand Reopening.

It’s scary when you think you are going to loose something very valuable like the Rincon Market. It’s more than culture, it’s more than tradition … it a place were everyone has a very strong sense of belonging.

Just Packaged Goods
This week we had no produce which, coincidently, not only rounds out a good diet but our food cart photo as well. Barbara says next week we’re going to bring back the fresh stuff.

We collected a total of 112 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $31.57, a $25.00 check and $6.57 in cash.

See you Sunday,


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