Looks as though I should write something here more often. Maybe it’s time to revamp.
The following is a story I read today – it was a link from a blog, to some online user forum (link). The story rambles a bit at the start, and there’s some f-bombs, so I’ve edited it down ever so slightly to get the essence and beauty of the story to post here. I hope it will lift your day as it has mine, and gives you a slightly different perspective in life.
This past year I have had 3 instances of car trouble. A blow out on a freeway, a bunch of blown fuses and an out of gas situation. Each of these times I was DISGUSTED with how people would not bother to help me. I spent hours on the side of the freeway waiting, watching roadside assistance vehicles blow past me, for AAA to show. But you know who came to my rescue all three times? Immigrants. Mexican immigrants. None of them spoke a lick of the language. But one of those dudes had a profound affect on me.
He was the guy that stopped to help me with a blow out with his whole family of 6 in tow. I was on the side of the road for close to 4 hours. Big jeep, blown rear tire, had a spare but no jack. I had signs in the windows of the car, big signs that said NEED A JACK and offered money. No dice. Right as I am about to give up and just hitch out there a van pulls over and dude bounds out. He sizes the situation up and calls for his youngest daughter who speaks English. He conveys through her that he has a jack but it is too small for the Jeep so we will need to brace it. He produces a saw from the van and cuts a log out of a downed tree on the side of the road. We rolled it over, put his jack on top, and bam, in business. I start taking the wheel off and, if you can believe it, I broke his tire iron. It was one of those collapsible ones and I wasn’t careful and I snapped the head I needed clean off.
No worries, he runs to the van, gives it to his wife and she is gone in a flash, down the road to buy a tire iron. She is back in 15 minutes, we finish the job with a little sweat and cussing (stupid log was starting to give), and I am a very happy man. We are both filthy and sweaty. The wife produces a large water jug for us to wash our hands in. I tried to put a 20 in the man’s hand but he wouldn’t take it so I instead gave it to his wife as quietly as I could. I thanked them up one side and down the other. I asked the little girl where they lived, thinking maybe I could send them a gift for being so awesome. She says they live in Mexico. They are here so mommy and daddy can pick peaches for the next few weeks. After that they are going to pick cherries then go back home. She asks if I have had lunch and when I told her no she gave me a tamale from their cooler, the best tamale I have ever had.
So, to clarify, a family that is undoubtedly poorer than you, me, and just about everyone else on that stretch of road, working on a seasonal basis where time is money, took an hour or two out of their day to help some strange dude on the side of the road when people in tow trucks were just passing me by. Wow…
But we aren’t done yet. I thank them again and walk back to my car and open the foil on the tamale cause I am starving at this point and what do I find inside? My $20 bill! I whirl around and run up to the van and the guy rolls his window down. He sees the $20 in my hand and just shaking his head no like he won’t take it. All I can think to say is “Por Favor, Por Favor, Por Favor” with my hands out. Dude just smiles, shakes his head and, with what looked like great concentration, tried his hardest to speak to me in English:
“Today you…. tomorrow me.”
Rolled up his window, drove away, his daughter waving to me in the rear view. I sat in my car eating the best tamale of all time and I just cried. Like a little girl. It has been a rough year and nothing has broke my way. This was so out of left field I just couldn’t deal.
In the 5 months since I have changed a couple of tires, given a few rides to gas stations and, once, went 50 miles out of my way to get a girl to an airport. I won’t accept money. Every time I tell them the same thing when we are through:
“Today you…. tomorrow me.”
I wrote the passage below several months ago. Since then I’ve built an entire deck on the back of the house. I really enjoyed the experience (though could not have done it without Pop’s guidance, experience, and assistance), and have continued to enjoy the time spent with family on this thing that I made.
However, I’m realizing that I may be a bit hard on myself as far as only pushing 1′s and 0′s goes. I’ve now created a 2009 photo album of our family (consisting of over 600 photos I’ve taken – a mere 10% of the year’s snapshots) and also the first of many books about the kids based on all the things I’ve written about them over the years (it’s complete with about 200 small photos relating to some of the things that are written about). So while I still agree with the sentiment below – I want to do more with my hands to actually build – I recognize that we create in so many different mediums that are important and wonderful.
For so long I’ve been a ‘knowledge worker’. I make things that consist of 1′s and 0′s – and that’s cool. I enjoy it, and I think I’m decent at what I do. But lately I’ve had a great desire to learn to use my hands more…on things other than a keyboard. I want to build and fix stuff. These silky smooth geek hands have had a 31 year vacation. I think it’s time to put them to work, to get them in harm’s way a little bit.