When I woke up, my first thought this yesterday morning was that the hot tub repairman was coming. It had taken two weeks to get this appointment. I had also, the night before, promised the kids that I'd take them to the science museum, library, and William's piano lesson in the morning. Obviously, I didn't check my calendar first. (Well, actually that wouldn't have helped, since I'd forgotten to write it down.)
After several tries, I finally was able to reach Mac, the repairman by phone. He'd left a message that he'd come between 2:30 and 3:00 p.m., right in the middle of William's piano lesson, but when I talked to him, he was unable to say what time he'd be here.
"Can you give me a ballpark?" I asked, frustrated. "I have my day to plan and can't sit around all day waiting for....."
Mac* interrupted. "Ma'am, I can't tell you when I'll be there. Honestly, I don't know how I'm going to do this."
His voice was choking and he was beginning to cry. I am thinking at this point that wow, this must be a really difficult employer and who knew that being a hot tub repairman was so stressful? Then, Mac told me that he'd just found out that his step-daughter had been murdered six months ago, and he didn't know how he was going to get through the day. He choked out that he'd come if he could and hung up on me.
I looked at the phone, stunned. I quickly hit caller ID and called him back. "Look, Mac, I'm really sorry for your loss and what you're going through. I'll be praying for you today. My hot tub can wait. Maybe, you should take the day off and be with people you care about."
Mac then told me that there wasn't anyone. How sad. He had composed himself somewhat and said that if I called the store and left payment information, he could come without me being there. I again told him I'd be thinking of him, and hung up.
When I called the store to pay, I asked if they knew their employee had a serious situation going on, and she said that yes, she did but they'd told him to just "do his best". I told her that they needed to check on him, that he had relayed there was no one in his life to care, and that he didn't seem to be doing so well. She said she would, and thanked me.
We went on with our day, seeing the dinosaur exhibit at the museum, eating lunch at Subway, stripping the library of all it's children's books, and attending William's group lesson at piano. Mac called as the lesson ended; he was at our house. When I got home, he was sitting cross-legged in front of our hot tub, most of the repair completed. I crouched down beside him and asked him how he was doing. He'd made it through the day, and said he wouldn't know until he got home and told "the other one", I'm assuming another step-daughter. I asked, not wanting to pry too much but wanting to be there to listen, if they'd just discovered this news. No, he said, "they'd" known in December, but had just "seen fit" to tell him. He didn't share who "they" were.
As he left, I again said I'd be praying for him, and offered him a tip, which I usually do for repairmen, so they can get a bite to eat in the drive-through before the trip back. Mac declined.
"I don't mean to offend you..." I said.
"No, it doesn't offend me, but I can't accept it. Not today."
Some days, money and hot tubs, they just don't seem so important.
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