Monday, September 21, 2009

The kindness of strangers

Ok, so I will do my best to stop complaining about work. Yes, it's got me in a funk but I'm doing my best to work through it. I'm ramping up my job search, staying on top of my current duties and spending as much time away from the office as possible.

In that spirit, I left the office early and worked at home this afternoon. I took a break and decided to work on my back gate. We have a wooden gate in our back yard that leads out to the parking lot.  The latch is a problem. It doesn't open easily--extending across the gap between the two doors and making is difficult to actually open the gate. Very annoying. I had an idea that if I reversed the hardware, it would solve the problem. (As it turned out, I was incorrect.) I got my toolbox out and started taking the hardware off the gate. A man across the alley spotted me and yelled out, "Got the right tools for the job?"

I said, "Yes! I do!"

After a bit, he came over and saw that I was unscrewing a bolt with a fixed wrench. He said, "You have a socket?"

In fact, I do have a socket set, but it was in the house. The socket driver was in my toolbox and he'd spotted it. I said, "Yes. But it's in the house."

"Oh. I have one." He went to his truck and came back with the right size socked. He asked for the socket driver and then he finished the unscrewing. He continued to help me, going so far as to bring out his electric drill to drive in some difficult screws. He had a buddy who came over and watched us. Sometimes they spoke in Spanish (even though my Spanish is ok, I couldn't really understand them).

When we got it all done, we could see it wasn't right. It wasn't fixed. If anything, it was worse. We talked a little about what the problem was and then I remembered the kind of latch we used to have on our back gate when I was a kid. You just attached a string or reached your hand over the top to release it.

The man went back to his van and brought out just such a latch. "But it won't work. It needs a rod. But I can make it for you. I can bring it tomorrow."

"Really? That would be great. I would like to pay you..."

He smiled, "Oh, no, no." He shook his head. His buddy smiled and shook his head too.

Before he left, he gave me his number so I could call when I was getting home tomorrow.

Later on, I was talking to Curt and I told him the story. I said, "But I should pay him..."

Curt said, "No, no, no! He doesn't want you to pay him. Don't insult him by paying him."

"Really? But he's spending his money..."

"It's not that much money."

I said, "And his time, that's worth more."

"He doesn't want to be paid."

I wonder. What do you think?

Grateful for: a kind stranger.

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