Ponder this:

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Sometimes you win some . . . that you thought you'd lost

A piece of mail came back to the Morning Job office, marked by the post office, "UNDELIVERABLE AT THIS ADDRESS." Jane gave the envelope to me: "See if you can solve this mystery." 

The addressee was a man with whom I'd had some pretty intense dealings through Afternoon Job. Mr. S. owns property in Small Pond and lives in the shore region of another state. In 2005 he blew into town, handsome in his dark wavy hair and expensive suit, bought a building and established a business that should have taken off, but didn't, at least partly for lack of good management. In early 2009 he subdivided his Small Pond property. A year later he had a buyer for the newly-created parcel but couldn't sell it because, officially, it didn't exist as a separate piece of property: he had never filed the deed with the county clerk. Bill and I did what we could to help him understand the problem and how to fix it: by law, he would have to go through the subdivision process again. That isn't a lengthy process, as these things go, but it does take some time. Mr. S. was . . . unhappy. 

I recall one telephone call from him that caused me to speak at increasing volume as I said, "Okay. Hold...  Hold on... I think I have... Hold... Yes, I understand. Let me just get the file. Hold on... I'm waiting for you to stop talking so I can put you on hold and get the file!" The crash of the receiver into the cradle of my phone brought Bill's head around in a spin. When the wall shuddered as I heaved the file drawer closed, file in hand, Bill asked in alarm, "What's happening?" I told him who was on the phone and summarized Mr. S's behavior and character in a salty four-word sentence. Bill picked up the call, prepared to do the pouring-oil-on-troubled-waters that he does so well. Bill's end of the five-minute conversation was as halting and increasingly frustrated as mine had been. Afterward he showed me the piece of paper on which he had made a hash mark each time Mr. S. had called him a fucking asshole. There were thirty-eight of them.

We eventually ended up accomplishing the necessary process through a local representative for Mr. S., whose financial [and, I suspect, other aspects of his] life had crashed and was burning smokily. When the subdivision had been accomplished again and the deed filed, Mr. S. phoned, abjectly apologetic, and thanked Bill and me for our help, but his buyer had gone away in the elapsed time.

Yesterday I had a piece of mail for the man, and, in my old file, his telephone number. I didn't expect it to work, but he answered.
"Hey! Mark! It's June from Small Pond. How y'doin?"
"I've had better years."
We talked for a few minutes and then I explained about the mail. He gave me the new address, a post office box. He sounded so resigned, so downhearted, that I was moved to say, "Well, Mark . . . y'know . . . my husband's uncle used to say, 'A man who has been successful might fail, but he'll get on top again, because he has been there once, and knows how.'"
"I know some mistakes I won't make again."
"It'll get better. You're young. You've got plenty of time to get back on top."

Quietly, sincerely, he said, "You and Bill are good people."
It was about as good as a God Bless.


VM Sehy Photography said...

You two made an impression on him. Sounds like he learned a lesson in being humble. Life is full of ups and downs. Hope he can get back on top.

Linda Myers said...

You made a difference to him. Good for you!

Grandmother Mary said...

A mark of character is when you can be nice to someone who isn't being nice to you. Good for you.

Carolynn Anctil said...

I do believe you & Bill are walking the high road. You want to know why his business failed...those slashes on the page are why. That kind of caustic approach to life doesn't appear in only one place. His will be a long and arduous journey, he keeps that up.

Tom said...

One wonders -- how'd the hash mark get on top in the first place? But it sounds like perhaps he's not a hash mark anymore, so maybe people can change. Anyway, good work.

Friko said...

Oops, not always easy, your job, is it?

I also read the previous post, blimey, you must tell me where you live, even Valley's End couldn't do better.

Barb said...

Luckily, I think people do remember the good in others. At least, I hope so.

Sally Wessely said...

This is a heartwarming story. No doubt, you made a very favorable impression on him for your skill and your ability to try and negotiate a solution in a very uncomfortable and unreasonable situation.

Just as Grandmother said, your mark of character is quite evident.

#1Nana said...

Okay, it's a happy ending. But, one thing I don't miss about no longer being a public employee is the abuse that the public feels is their right to dish out just because I was paid by tax dollars.

Pauline said...

Your attitude of do-my-job-well-no-matter-what is very inspiring and satisfying.

lol - word verification? reoil