And so I followed up the earlier Facebook status with "Chris Howell is once again gainfully employed!!" And my phone lit up for hours. I am blessed to have wonderful people in my life. Messages like "Yay" "Congratulations!" and "Yippee" were joined by thoughts like "I knew it would only be a matter of time before someone snapped you up" and "I knew you would find something worth your talents."
Wow. My friends don't know what that means to me. I know I have a tendency to be pretty self-critical...and I know that I often believe that my talents are nothing special. I've always figured that if I could do it, anybody could. So, to hear that I'm loved and wanted, well - that is incredible. And I want you to know that I appreciate it. And I will continue to try to pass that love around to others.
This reminds me of what I was told a long time ago by a man who helped out when my car broke down. Yeah...another car tale...
I drove a 1965 convertible Volkswagon Beetle. Well, it wasn't so much convertible any more. The tack strip and the top were in pretty ragged shape, so I had just removed them completely. And my very talented Mom had helped make a cover so that I could keep most of the rain out when it was parked. And to keep the trash out of it...what makes jerks want to throw things into open cars? But I digress (as usual).
Mom, Dad and I were returning from my grandmother's house in Northern Virginia when we started smelling brakes. I had been warned by my VW mechanic (you can't drive a Volks without having a personal relationship with a mechanic. RIP Courtney Gordon - you were truly one of a kind) that one of the brake lines was internally collapsing. So, at some point when I applied the brakes...one of them stayed applied. Until it pretty much caught fire.
At the time, nobody carried cell phones. I'm sure they were invented...but they were not common. And so we were stranded between Charlottesville and Lovingston. Dad unloaded his bike and headed to find a phone. Mom and I sat by the side of the road. And along came a sketchy looking truck with some fairly sketchy looking mountain-folk. We explained the problem and they said they'd be back to help. Dad returned without having found a phone to use and the mountain folk came back a few minutes later. I don't even remember the fellow's name...
He said it would be safer to work on the car on his farm - and since the brake had cooled, it wouldn't do it any harm to drive the mile or so. He had several remains of Volkswagons on the "farm". He and his family were unbelievably hospitable. He and his friends located a VW with a "good enough" brake line...pulled it off and put it on mine. I'll never forget how he jacked up the donor car...he just stood in the driver's door and picked it up with his shoulder. And held it there while someone slid a block under the frame.
And when this big bear of a man had finished getting my car fixed...and we offered him money...he just said that the best way to pay him was to take care of someone else when we had the opportunity. That has always left an impression on me.
You can't repay a kindness...you can only pass it on.
I've got a lot of kindnesses to pass on.