DD and I were driving to my mom's on Sunday when I saw a yard sale going on. Since my entire income (PT job) goes to preschool costs and DH is basically not earning a cent, I have been looking only at garage sales and second hand shops for a dresser for the boys. I pulled over and sure enough, from a distance the dresser looked good enough but just needed some paint. We walked up and talked to the guy (about my age I'd say). I assumed he was moving, but he told me that no, his unemployment had run out and he was selling everything he owned to keep his apartment for another month while he continues to job hunt. He said that lots of Americans are in the same boat these days (he clearly is not feeling sorry for himself). He said that everything was 50% off, so the dresser was only $2.50. I would have paid $20 for it no problem. He had found it on the street (very common in my town; we have gotten some cool stuff from "free boxes") and since he's a contractor he was able to repair it. The dresser is in great shape and much better than I would have found at a second hand store. I said, "I'm not going to pay you only $2.50 for that dresser. Please let me at least give you the full $5", to which he said, "No Miss. Everything is 50% off and besides, I didn't pay anything for it". He would not let me give him a dime more than $2.50. He put it in the car for me, taking special care to lay a blanket on the fender as to not scratch the car. I had picked up (in a free box from a neighbor!) a plant stand which I had taken out of the car to put the dresser in. I noticed it had some pieces missing and some nails sticking out so decided I didn't want it. I left it for the guy in his wood area (he was giving wood away). He noticed it and called me back to ask about it and I told him about the needed repairs. To which he said (I kid you not), "I'll fix it for you. I have nothing else to do right now. You can swing by in 1/2 hour and pick it up". OMG! So I put my hand on his shoulder and said, "No, you can fix it and sell it for yourself", and at least he agreed to that! I can't stop thinking about him. He seems like an intelligent, normal guy of my generation (mid-40's). He had a jello recipe book and we chuckled about that (mothers who used to make jello molds). The fact that he doesn't even have a dresser to put his clothes in now but was so kind and giving, and there are many people who have so much who are unkind and don't understand how to share, just made me shake my head. This is right up there with the time I pulled into a parking space in SF the day before my wedding (meeting in-laws for breakfast) and didn't have change and a homeless guy literally took the change out of his cup to put in the meter for me. I mean really. When does THAT happen??? You bet I bought that guy a really nice breakfast and brought it back to him and we had a nice chat about how he became homeless. He seemed so wise (he was an old AA man) and I asked him if he had any advice for me for my marriage (he had shared about his long term marriage with a wife who had died). He said something poetic that was basically, "Always walk along the path together". Years later, I still think about HIM, too.
We're in Oregon. The unemployment here is pretty significant. Have you ever seen the show Portlandia? You can Google it. There's a song called "Dream of the 90's" and one line says, "Portland...where 20 somethings go to retire". Seriously, the coffee shops are packed with 20-somethings without jobs. It is crazy how many people here don't have jobs but are piecing something together just to survive. On the plus side, it forces people to get very creative and there are some amazing goods and services that pop up due to this. There is also a great deal of trade, swap, etc., which builds community in a very meaningful way.
There are so many good people like this and I'm so glad that you had this experience. Make no mistake that you are also part of this story... your ability to recognize his spirit and generosity and be open to him is just as beautiful to hear.
Yeah, I do have a bit of a soft heart...always have. Got that from my mom. I guess I could have had a different (indifferent?) experience with him had my head and heart been in a different space and had I not been open to talking to him. I just find that opening up a little, having those connections and not remaining in my little bubble, makes me so much happier.
...the quiet ones who do for others without any expectation of reward. There's a feature on one of the New York newscasts (NBC at 6:30 p.m. with Brian Williams) called "Making a Difference." They focus on ordinary people doing good things for others. I really look forward to those features each day, after all the bad news--and nasty politics!
Thank you so much for sharing your lovely, touching story. I know you will enjoy that dresser knowing where it came from. And I hope this man finds a job soon!
This message has been edited by wcl on Apr 12, 2012 10:11 AM