April 16, 2008
Wrong Tools, Right Job
As luck would have it, off we went again to Lowe’s. And even though we “needed" parts, it turns out we had another job to do as well.
This time we were more like the experienced, purposefully striding Lowe’s shoppers. We each took a task, and bravely split apart hoping to accomplish our goals faster.
I had the blade assignment. Who out there knows how many types of tile cutting blades there are for the RotoZip? I’m tempted to exaggerate, but the 4 that I found might as well as been 400 to me because I was clueless to the real deal of what I needed.
Luckily for me one of those wonderful Lowe’s employees strolled by. The huge mountainous man (complete with plaid flannel shirt and a longer-than-Grizzly Adams beard) listened to my plight, took my burned up blade and promptly informed me that we had been trying to cut tile with a wood blade. I embarrassedly tried to explain that I had no idea what I was doing, but would appreciate his help if he could just find the right blade.
Those GITC ID badges sure do come in handy when talking to strangers. They especially give you a little grace with the construction savvy set.
My new mentor explained blades in great detail, and then shared his recent re-involvement with Habitat for Humanity in the Slidell community. The group had been dormant for a while as the major disaster had been out of their scope. I extended my arm to thank him with a handshake. We shook hands and parted ways.
Meanwhile, three aisles over in plumbing, my well-travelled Lowe’s partner was getting a lesson on plumbing from a fellow named Donald. A patient, detailed oriented guy, he explained the many parts we needed and their purposes. Then, he put them all together for her so she could see the flow. Figuring that she’d have to take all those pieces apart to check-out, she came looking for me and back-up brain power.
Instead, she and Donald (whom she had dragged around the corner of the aisle by his hand) encountered something unexpected. I can still see the surprised look on both their faces.
I had turned back toward the plumbing aisle and was headed that way, when I ran in to my blade man, again. He stopped me to tell me how he felt inspired by the constant flow of volunteers through Slidell and how that flow had inspired him to become re-involved as a volunteer in his own community. He said that volunteering, working hard, and meeting like-minded people, had helped him to recognize GOD was very present in his life. Talking to volunteers and hearing over and over how GOD had brought others into Slidell to serve had helped defeat the depression the hurricane had brought into his life.
Then, with gentle tears in his eyes, he asked me for a hug. It wasn’t one of those short, simple, thanks-a-lot hugs. It was one of those long “I understand you, and I see GOD in you," bear hugs.
So, that’s what they saw when they came round that corner. Eventually I joined the plumbing brigade and tried to memorize the order of pieces for our Dr. Seuss plumbing. Lynda asked Donald to take a picture with us. He seemed a little unsure about it, but said ok, anyway. When I stood next to him he looked a little more nervous… I think he was worried about the hugging thing.
I had the pleasure of hunting down Donald on one last final trip for yet another plumbing part. This time, I made sure to shake his hand in thanks. He said something very interesting to me. “I don’t know why you volunteers are always thanking us when we should be thanking you."
I told him that was because we couldn’t have completed our project without his patient instruction. He freely gave us knowledge, resources, the confidence that we could get it done, and the feeling that if he saw us again it wouldn’t be interpreted as a failure.
Donald quietly said he used to volunteer with his church sometimes, delivering meals to the homebound, and that maybe he would check in to that and see if they still needed help. There was no hugging, but his eyes weren’t quite dry, either.
Posted by jaselin at April 16, 2008 06:39 AM