Sunday, June 18, 2006

do the right thing

When Mary bought new furnture for the cottage, a new sofa and love seat, she was faced with the problem of getting rid of he old stuff, which was perfectly usable, if slightly used. The old sofa and matching loveseat languished in the new garage, unused, seemingly ueless, and somewhat forlorn looking, being stuck out of context as it were. We joked (at least I think she was joking) that now I would have a place to sleep on those occasions when my husbandly transgressions forced her to discipline me by exiling me to the "dog house."

So there they sat, taking up valuable space in MY garage, which I envision as a workshop sanctuary when I need a place to hide and do my woodwork thing at the cottage. My dream is to replicate my home workshop at the cottage so I have a place to maintain some continuity while away from home for most of the summer. Those two pieces of furniture were taking up the space meant for my workbench.

Mary had visions of grandchildren someday sleeping on the sofa bed (moved back into the cottage , of course. No grandchild of hers would ever sleep in the garage. Husbands, ok. Grandkids, uh uh) despite the fact that we have no grandchildren yet, nor any immediate prospects for any. Faced with the prospect of having a couch instead of a workbench, I proposed that we might consider offering them for sale. You know, make a buck or two to help defray the cost of the new stuff. After listening to my mercenary whine for while, she finally relented and put an ad in the local newspaper.

Mary fretted over what to charge for them, not wanting to sound too greedy on the one hand, and not wanting to be taken advantage of on the other. Once she settled on a price she fretted that the phone wasn't ringing constantly with people eager to take the furniture off her hands. Then she finally got a call from an Hispanic sounding man who wanted to please come to look at the stuff. Mary set the apointment, hoping she was being understood, since he spoke hesitant English and she little Spanish. Somehow the communication worked.

Right on time, the car (a ten year old Pontiac, in good shape, but looking somewhat road weary), turned into our driveway. Out stepped a young Mexican man, smiling and eager to shake my hand. HIs pretty wife was more hesitant to approach us, but that may be because of the baby she had attached to her hip. And behind them both, three more of the most beautiful little children tumbled out of the backseat of the car. The oldest child looked to be about 8, his little brother and sister maybe 6 and 4. Along with the baby in her mother's arms, those four kids and their obviously proud parents made up a family that melted Mary's heart. Even I, curmudgeon though I seem to be, was smiling. I'm a sucker for little kids.

The young man explained that they were just arrived from Texas and had rented a trailer to live in, which need some fruniture. He said they had spent the earlier part of the day going from one rummage sale to the next looking for things they needed and could afford to set up housekeeping here. Mary showed them the furniture and when she opened the couch into a bed, the kids went wide-eyed with astonishment. We invited the little ones to lie down and test it, but only the middle son was brave enough to take us up on the offer.

While they looked over the furniture, quietly discussing the possibility of buying it, Mary glanced my way and when our eyes met, we were in complete accord without ever saying a word to each other. Being married for so long creates a mental telepathy that is unexplainable, but no less real for its unexplainability. So I piped up, asking if they had any way to transport the stuff home, indicating my pickup truck as a possible means of delivery. He said his brother had a pickup and could help with that. Mary then said you better call your brother to come because we want you to take the furniture. And, oh yeh, there's a standup lamp there in the corner we don't need, You might as well take that too. And I almost forgot, I have all the bedding that we used for the sofa bed, you should really have that, too.

They, of course, were somewhat confused and overwhelmed, not quite understanding that we meant to give them the stuff. It wasn't until Mary said we don't need the money that we could sell this stuff for, we'd rather just know that someone was getting good use out it. Once they realized what was happening, the young father gave Mary a hug and rushed over to me to shake my hand, uttered a thank you, and gave me a man hug. I swear there was a tear running down his cheek. And mama was just standing there looking shocked and afraid to believe what was happening. After a somewhat awkward moment, everyone sprang into action. They piled back into their car to go and get the brother and his pickup, Mary stood there beaming at them and waving them out the driveway, and I shuffled away so the little lump in my throat wouldn't be too noticable along with the tear froming in my eye. Gotta keep up appearances, you know.

Not that I want any big thank you or pat on the back, but that whole transaction sure felt good. Mary and I both know that only good can come from something like this, and that if there is a reward for our actions, it will come to us tenfold, either in this life or the next. For me, the reward was seeing a young family happy at their good fortune and the simple, quiet, sincere thank you uttered by that young man. Doing the right thing sure feels good.

And, oh yeh, I now have room for my workbench.

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