Jony’s a 17 year old from Bratislava, Slovakia who will be a 4th year senior at C.S. Lewis Bilingual High School this coming school year. I say 4th year senior because back home for him students attend high school for 5 years, rather than the standard 4 for us. He’s a very bright young man that speaks 3 languages, one of which being English, and he speaks it very well. (He actually speaks better ‘proper’ English than we often do.. myself included). While grabbing lunch downtown I realized that, other than a bit of an accent different from my own and the occasional search for the proper word to express his thoughts, Jony is just like many of us at his age. He enjoys an active lifestyle, has a love for sport, particularly floor ball (a version of indoor floor hockey popular throughout Central Europe), is an avid snowboarder, has a girlfriend back home, and when asked what his plans are for after high school he isn’t quite sure.. I know I can certainly relate to that when I was 17..
You may be wondering why a high school student from all the way around the world is spending part of his summer here in Montana? There are many parts to the answer but in short it is a piece of fulfilling our purpose of making life better for people. We have an opportunity to help our people and those in Bratislava to widen their world view and experience different cultures from which they are accustomed through our partner lube centers in Bratislava, Oil Partners. This relationship is one that dates back many years and has become a good catalyst for people from both sides of the world to go and experience things they may not have otherwise had the opportunity to do. Jony is neither the first, nor will he be the last to make the full day’s trip around the world to spend time in a country and culture foreign to what they have known their whole life.
For Jony, one of the things he has found a new love for is our American ‘muscle cars’. His time here led to him declaring a new goal for his return home and that is to find and purchase one of his own. For me this is a good example of looking outside yourself and broadening your world view. I can relate to Jony as I have long dreamed of owning a ’68 Camaro SS or a ’67 GT500 Mustang (for those of you who have seen the movie ‘Gone in 60 Seconds’ you know what I’m talking about). Truth be told I’ve mostly taken for granted the fact that we have all kinds of beautiful muscle cars around us every day and available to us on some level if we really put our minds to it. For Jony the reality is much different, American ‘muscle’ care are pretty rare and difficult to find in Bratislava so acquiring one of any kind presents a great challenge for his return home.
In total Jony spent a month in Montana this summer. Bill and Marilyn Simmons opened their home for Jony, as they so often do, to offer a comfortable room and bed for some R&R. As with many of our guests from Bratislava Jony spend a good amount his time in our stores helping out and getting to know the MasterLube family, for Jony, this meant shadowing Justice Marjamaa at our Grand Ave store. When not helping in the store Lubers took him camping, fishing, shooting, 4 wheeling, and even a weekend ranching with our Derek Gee who now works at our King Ave store. Time well spent, if you ask me, developing friendships that will be remembered for a lifetime.
So while he may be a little unsure of what exactly the future holds for him I could feel that Jony thoroughly enjoyed his time in Montana, hoping to one day return to further explore what our great state has to offer.
Jony, it has been our pleasure and we look forward to your return as well!