Good morning! I hope you had a fantastic weekend.
For those of us in the US Midwest, it was a weekend of brutal weather. Our weather here wasn’t quite as bad as the forecasters had predicted, but it was still a mess. It started with a light drizzle most of the day Saturday, followed by ice, snow, and a 30-degree drop in temperature that froze everything in its path.
Yesterday morning, I woke up to the sound of a snowblower running outside. Our neighbor was out in single-digit temperatures clearing the sidewalk on our entire block. When he’d finished, he came back to clear our driveway, and up around the car. I didn’t even have time to make him a cup of hot cocoa before he was off to the next driveway.
When we first moved to Ohio, I remember asking my dad how he found the energy to shovel his own walks. Funny, he was the same age I am now, but back then that seemed a lot older. And, as it turns out, he never did have to shovel. His neighbor, a much younger man, came by with a snowblower each morning and did it for him.
So, when I bought my snowblower I decided to pay it forward. We had a couple of elderly ladies living next-door, and when I went out to plow my own walks and driveway, I always did theirs as well. And when we moved into this house, I did the same for my neighbors. When my grandson was old enough to run the snowblower, he carried on the tradition.
But this year, my grandson is in boot camp and my snowblower decided to take the winter off. I have no idea why it won’t start, but I’ve had it for 20 years with nothing more than a few minor repairs, so I can’t complain. Still, I’m not used to being on the receiving end of neighborly kindness. I’d rather be out there with them.
And, the thing is, none of us ever do these things hoping somebody will pay it back. I’m sure my neighbor was only thinking of the job at hand, and the fact that it would make somebody else’s day better – the same as I did when I was the one out there plowing. We do it because we have the ability and, for some of us, the tools to make the job a whole lot easier.
When I was a young sailor, I learned to work on cars out of necessity – the cars I owned were older and needed occasional repairs, and I couldn’t afford a mechanic. Of course, back then, cars were a lot easier to work on. I remember dropping the engine out of my VW Beetle on the side of the road for a quick repair. A little over an hour later, we were on our way.
In the process of making that repair, I found a way to replace the generator without dropping the engine, something the repair manuals said just couldn’t be done. A couple of months later, a man I worked with asked if I could help him change the generator in his Beetle. I had the job done in fifteen minutes. He tried to pay me, but I told him to just pay it forward.
Over the years, I worked on a lot of cars that didn’t belong to me, and I never accepted pay for doing it. Because I always knew it could be my wife or daughters needing that help someday, and I hoped somebody would be kind enough to help them. That’s the way this whole thing works. And even if it never comes back to you, hopefully the person you helped will help somebody else.
We all have talents, certain skills that allow us to do jobs others can’t quite figure out. Maybe we have the tools they need to get the job done. Maybe we have a truck that can haul a refrigerator or a garage where they can do their own work. And maybe our only gift is the ability to hold somebody’s hand and help them through tough times.
We all need a little help from time to time, and so does everyone around us. That’s not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of humanity. But we also have gifts of our own we can use to make somebody else’s day better. It’s our willingness to use those gifts that defines who we are.
When I can track down my neighbor, I’ll be sure to let him know just how much I appreciated his kindness. And next winter, maybe he’ll be the one to wake up to the sound of a neighbor clearing his walks. We do these things for one another, not out of a sense of obligation, but because we can. We do it because we care. And we do it because it just feels good.
That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!
© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved