Saturday, September 11, 2010

i help

Left hanging by my freight company Wednesday night, I was stuck with 300 pounds of 19th century hunt cabinet on a pallet jack on the sidewalk. After griping at the freight company for not showing up and worse, not calling, I closed up shop and prepared to move the pallet back inside the building.

The ramp to the warehouse is crunchy with old concrete and I had been sick all day with some kind of respiratory crap that left me hacking and breathless at the least exertion. I pumped the jack to raise the pallet, trundled the massive thing to the warehouse door, lined it up to make a run at the ramp, and pushed as hard as I could. Nothing. I could get it to the ramp, but not over the broken lip of it. I hacked and coughed, pulled it back, ran at it again. POW! This time I hit so hard the monster jumped back at me. I released the pallet jack and doubled over coughing.

As I recovered, I noticed a couple of guys from the auto shop across the road watching me. I looked back, silver hair on full display. One waved, got in his car and left. I could see the big guy owner of that shop gazing at me from inside his building. No help. Many cars passed my corner, which intersects old Route 66. Lots of looks from passersby. I can imagine their thoughts as they roared down the road: "Dang, she thinks she's going to move that big ol' thing? Good luck, granny." Thanks, boys.

I pumped the jack again, ran at the ramp, BANG! Slammed that broken lip full force and came to a dead, bone-jarring halt. I just couldn't get past that lip. By this time I was so breathless from coughing, so worn out from the very long day and being sick, that I didn't think I could do it again. I considered leaving it on the sidewalk over night. Would someone actually make off with 300 pounds of jack and four huge boxes of hunt cabinet?

And then a shiny red pickup stopped in front of my shop. I didn't look too closely. People are always stopping at Jim Blue's Barber Shop next door. I pumped the jack, preparing for another run, and just as I began to push, a pair of brown hands joined mine and I looked up to see a friendly smile, and heard the words "I help."

And help he did. Together this kind man, who barely spoke English, and I, who barely speak Spanish, found the sweet spot on that ramp, moved the massive thing inside, and finished the task which moments before had seemed impossible.

I remembered my friend Marlene saying that the best way to get the attention of any man in Mexico is to sing out "mijo." In a restaurant in Yucatan, a woman's voice calling "mijo" will turn every male head. That seems so sweet to me, that the grown up men of Mexico will still respond to their mothers' term of endearment.

And so I slammed the garage door, turned to my good Samaritan, said "gracias, mijo" and winked. He laughed out loud and was still smiling as he drove off waving.

It was a wretched day turned lovely by a chance encounter with a generous man. I woke up this morning remembering how, in my earliest days of sobriety, I would make an effort to do something nice and unexpected for another person, and to keep it anonymous. I think I'll try that again. The world would be a gentler place if we could all live by those words: I help.

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