We celebrated our wedding anniversary that year in a junkyard. Our disabled RV rested among broken farm equipment, wrecked cars, and rusted metal. A broken fuel injector had ruined what was meant to be a romantic night of camping in Utah’s Boulder Mountains.
Every fall before the ski season kicks in, we take a month off and travel. We were returning to the birthplace of our union. More than twenty years ago, only a few miles from our broken truck, we had fallen in love.
The truck part we needed was a mere three hours away. Unfortunately, due to the weekend and the remoteness of our location, it would take three days in Utah time. Roger, the owner of the tow truck that fetched our RV—and also the owner of the service station and the junkyard—dragged us directly to our campsite and bade us goodnight.
Loa, Utah, is a farming town located in the southwest corner of the state. Only if my wife and I had broken down on Venus could have we found anyplace more removed from the ski resort we call home. Where our town—Breckenridge—was glitzy, upscale, and slightly hedonistic, Loa was modest, Mormon, and quiet.
The residents, being typical members of the LDS church, valued faith, family, and community, allowing little room for anything else. The town was immaculate, the roadsides landscaped, and almost every house we passed was involved in some
project of improvement. We saw no one who looked to be idle or recreating, and the parks were mostly empty; to us, the lifestyle seemed tedious and oppressive.
“All they do is work,” observed Ellen. “It’s the weekend, for God’s sake.”
That certainly seemed like a fair observation. In the three days we were walking around town, everyone we saw seemed a part of a large family, quite busy, but also content.
That last part intrigued me. Granted, we have many friends who are raising children and loving it, and we even know a few who like to work. But it is my observation that they would not be able to do so (and enjoy it) without the benefits of caffeine and an occasional beer.
It is very difficult for me, a New Age–bent liberal, to admit this. But there was much to be said for the church-imposed work ethic that the citizens lived by. They were doing what they were told—gladly. The men worked hard and ruled the family. The women worked hard and ran the family. The children were like children anywhere, but better behaved and mannered, and they wore their ball caps facing forward. Though it is entirely possible that a hidden dissatisfaction lurked under the orderly surface, from the perspective of a stranded traveler, their contentment was enviable.
We were awoken Monday morning by a knock on our camper door. Roger was sporting a worried look. “I dreamt about your motor last night,” he said. I was about to ask if that would be considered erotic by Mormon standards when he added, “I woke up troubled that I was wrong about your injectors.” He had gotten out of bed, gone down to his garage waiting for the early delivery of our part, and wanted to install it early to determine whether his diagnosis was correct. “If that isn’t the problem, I’ve got some other ideas we can try. I promise, I’ll get you up and running before I sleep tonight.”
We were both amazed that with all he had on his plate—family, business, church—he would be so concerned about the plight of two heathens living in his junkyard.
“What type of man would wake up in the middle of the night worrying about a fuel injector?” my mate asked with an incredulous lilt.
“A good man,” I answered.
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be seen on TV-8 and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.