2017-05-01 / Features

A note from the new girl who Breezed in

To tell the truth, it didn’t start off that great. But to be perfectly honest, it’s turned out to be terrific. I’m Glenda Caudle -- the new girl in town. I’m following in the footsteps of Kristin Compton as reporter for Gulf Breeze News and editor for Splash magazine, beginning last week. I know something about the fondness people have for a local read, because I’ve been writing for a similar readership for 27 years. My hometown folks just happen to live in a small place called Union City that is tucked up into the northwest corner of Tennessee.

I have always thought my friends and neighbors in that little bit of God’s country were the most amazing, friendly, intelligent, helpful, entertaining, generous, all-round-best people in the world.

I have to admit, though, that if the folks I have already met here and the experiences I have enjoyed with them in Gulf

Breeze continue to be as positive as they have been so far, I will be moving Panhandle Floridians up there right next to northwest

Tennesseans on my list of favorites.

But back to that rocky start. I came into town on a brief visit late in March to get a feel for things and meet my boss and co-workers at Gulf Breeze News. Bright and early that Sunday morning, a friend and I headed my car across the bridge from

Pensacola and located the office site I was seeking in


We wandered around for a while, enjoying the beauty of a day that didn’t show much sign of the rain that had been forecast and the relaxed and welcoming feel of the area where Gulf

Breeze News is located. As we returned to the car, I mentioned that my “check tire pressure” light had popped on at some point during the drive over that very long bridge between Pensacola and Gulf Breeze. A quick visual check confirmed this was one instance in which technology was right on the money. My back passenger-side tire was decidedly pancaked and no longer full of much hot air at all.

While I was busy being grateful the deflating experience hadn’t occurred on I-65 on my way into Florida, Friend was calling AAA and asking for assistance.

Grateful for a shady spot in Harbourtown, we settled in to wait for the help we were told would take an hour. In less than half that time, though, Rich from Matchett Bayside Towing and

Recovery showed up, looking completely competent and totally unwilling to let the heat of the day or any other external factors interfere with getting that useless tire off and the spare on.

“Speed” does not do his actions justice. I would still have been struggling with getting the spare out of the trunk in the time it took him to complete the whole job. Then, as he dusted his hands off and snapped the trunk lid, he directed us to a tire store open on a Sunday morning, bade us a pleasant good-bye, and was gone. On his way to rescue another motorist, I assume.

That’s when Mike entered the picture.

It’s hard to imagine a friendlier face or a more accommodating person to work with than Mike Ferrante, a sales associate at Tires Plus Total Car Care at 2553 Gulf Breeze Parkway.

Although he was dealing with a room full of people needing assistance of some kind with their automobiles that morning, Mike never lost his cool and treated each customer with unfailing courtesy and genuine concern for their problems.

Friend and I thoroughly enjoyed talking to him and felt we were lucky to have been pointed in his direction. He had us back on the road in no time, and his attitude brightened our day in the process. We were both sporting huge smiles instead of grumpy frowns and complaints over what could have been a real downer for my first full day in town, had we not run into two such helpful folks.

Before my visit was over, I had met one of the management team at Publix and found out he was new to the area, as well; been introduced to some lovely and gracious employees at three or four local businesses; and made the acquaintance of some helpful people at City Hall.

All were welcoming and clearly proud of their city and all it has to offer. I can see that they have every right to that attitude.

Now I’m back and ready to go to work, hoping you will be informed and entertained by the stories I write and will soon feel you have a new friend in town, because I’m finding, based on my earliest experiences, that it’s going to be easy to see you in that way. You’ll become just as special to me as the dear friends and wonderful neighbors I’m leaving behind in Tennessee, I imagine, but your stories will be uniquely your own here in Gulf Breeze.

I can’t wait to write them.

It’s why I decided to become the new girl in town, after all.

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