WEST SPRINGFIELD, Pa. — A gesture of kindness from an area man led a traveler to review his priorities in life, according to a video posted in early April on YouTube by Kyle Dempsey.
Karl Mackey, who lives just across the Pennsylvania border, helped Kyle Dempsey fix his car in January and opened him up to a new look on life. The video has more than 20,000 views and has become something of a hit with some area residents.
The pair met in January at Love’s Travel Stop in Conneaut after Dempsey heard a squeal and a pop and watched his temperature gauge skyrocket. The 18-minute video explains his attempt to place his serpentine belt back in line when Mackey arrived on the scene and refreshed his life.
Mackey, 67, jumped up on the hood of the Range Rover and diagnosed the real problem and offered to take Dempsey to an auto parts store. Dempsey said he wasn’t sure about the offer, but decided to take the man up on his hospitality and also received a tour of Conneaut.
After a visit to the auto parts store, Dempsey was informed that the part would arrive in two days, so he got a room at the Conneaut Days Inn. Mackey offered to meet him for breakfast the next morning if he was interested. Dempsey was interested and took cell phone video and pictures of the events.
Dempsey also helped move a large motor to the back of Mackey’s property and paid for his breakfast.
The pair also talked about life and Dempsey learned that Mackey was battling advanced prostate cancer.
At the same time, Dempsey was returning from several weeks out west recharging his batteries and looking for a vision for 2020. The traveler said he was excited about getting home, but not upset about the extra two days away.
Dempsey marveled at the timing of their meeting and the ability to learn from a stranger. Dempsey said he listened deeply to Mackey regarding politics and enjoyed his honesty and straightforward discussion.
“He fired up the furnace and told me stories,” Dempsey said. He said Mackey told him about selling vegetables in Conneaut with his mother as a child.
When the pair parted, Dempsey asked Mackey if he could pay him for his help.
“You helped me and I helped you. I think we’re square,” Mackey said in the video. Dempsey said he marveled at the simplicity and truth of the statement.
In a follow-up interview on Saturday, Dempsey said the experience meeting Mackey opened up a way for him to slow down a bit.
“It’s been amazing. I have definitely simplified some things in my work life,” he said.
Dempsey was returning to his home in Massachusetts from time in Idaho, Colorado and Minnesota when the car problem brought him face-to-face with his “Erie Angel.” During the trip, Dempsey said he worked on a novel he hopes to publish and recorded a song he wrote and wants to follow his dreams.
Another important lesson Dempsey said he learned was the need to listen to people who have different experiences.
“As soon as I got in the truck I knew I was the complete opposite [of Mackey],” he said of growing up in a liberal home and experiencing life differently than his new friend.
During a Friday afternoon interview, Mackey said he didn’t know his new friend was creating a video, but liked the finished product. He said he offered his assistance because he just thought the man needed help.
“I thought this guy is going to need some help,” Mackey said.
Mackey said a lot of people in the area have seen the video and reach out to him.
“They see me in my truck and wave,” he said.
Mackey said he has also talked with Dempsey on the phone. He said he found out the traveler makes his living detailing the outdoor life and wishes he had taken him to area Ashtabula County Metroparks and covered bridges instead of old businesses and the Lake Erie shoreline.
“I should have gone the other way,” he said.
While Mackey is still battling advanced prostate cancer, he is also working hard to keep his life together and looking forward to summer work driving dump trucks in Ashtabula.
Mackey said meeting other people who have seen the video and respond positively has been healing for him.
“I try to get out as much as I can,” he said of interacting with others while living alone with his dog.
Taking the time to listen to people with different life experiences is important, Dempsey said.
“Everyone deserves a chance to be heard and you never know what stories are buried beneath the surface,” he said.
“In the end, we are all just humans and when you put things aside you can connect with anyone,” Dempsey said.
The video may be viewed at: https://youtu.be/MVOWe_yi9bQ