Paying It Forward

Once upon a time, when I moved to Colorado, I left a decent-paying job as an admin assistant (30K + in 1993) to come to a place where I could only find jobs (of the same level of skill, etc.) for $5.00 an hour.  Seriously.  In my zeal to come west and being “in love”, I hadn’t realized that Pueblo was still trying to find its way out of a crushing depression that overtook it when the steel business went bust in the late 70s.  “The Mill” was pretty much the only employer in town for ages.  All other businesses–stores, restaurants, etc. only existed to serve the needs of those employed by the mill.  Kids went to high school and graduated, not thinking of anything but a secure union-protected job at “The Mill”.  I moved here just as the entire town was realizing that it was going to need to attract other companies or types of businesses to it if it was going to survive at all.  Hence, the 75 resumes that I sent to various companies received a total of ONE response and that was a “maybe”.

So.

Money was tight, to say the least.  My intended at the time worked for the local newspaper; had for years, but it was not a high paying job, and we never had really a “joint” relationship when it came to finances.  After about 6 weeks here, I finally got a job through a temp agency, which is still the best way to find work in this town.  Additionally, I had left my old Chevy land yacht in Atlanta since it was creeping up on 200K miles and I hoped my mom could sell it for me for a few dollars, so I had no car.

So, here I was in a new town, with a sullen child just on the verge of her real “demonization”, trying to figure out how to live on $5.00 an hour and stretch my meager savings, with a fiance who wasn’t particularly much better off.

With all that going on, you can imagine my feelings when I opened a letter that came from one of my college friends who was living in England at the time and out fell a check to me for $1,000.00.  I was stunned.  Wise woman that she was, she only said that she had been thinking about me, and that I could either pay her back or accept the money as a gift.  After thinking long and hard, I decided to accept her amazing gift, because I knew that if I worried about paying it back, it could very well sour our relationship.  Not from her side, but from mine with self-imposed feelings of inadequacy of not being able to return her generosity.

This week, we had an opportunity to pay that debt of generosity.  We have a friend here, a bit older than we are (approaching 70) who was actually responsible for our meeting.  G spends more time with her, helping her, etc. because they met first and because they are both retired, so they have the time to hang out.  When we met her, this lady was living in Pueblo West which is kind of a “bedroom” community of Pueblo about 15 miles out of town.  The views there are gorgeous, but it’s kind of a drive (by Pueblo standards) to get anywhere or do anything.  So, a few years ago, X decided she wanted to move back “to town”, especially since another friend of hers had also relocated to Pueblo and encouraged her to move closer.  This “friend” has since hied herself back to Denver.

Well, this other friend really pushed X to buy this particular house.  G. looked it over and strongly urged her NOT to buy it because it was a HUD home and there was a lot of work that needed to be done.  However, for some reason, she just will NOT listen to G about things like this, so she bought the house.

Now, construction loan and other stuff down the road, she’s in this odd little house that has a ton of stuff that needs work and is probably way upside down on the house.  She had to put in a new furnace, got a new roof and gutters this year due to a hail storm, but she’s had ongoing trouble with water lines, pressure, etc.  Then, this week, G went under the house and discovered that her water heater has been leaking through the floor and it on the verge of having a potentially dangerous meltdown.

X was devastated.  She already has had her income slashed several times due to paying off a partner, having to get disability (she’s an RN, but blew out her knees), dealing with a disabled child (nearing 50 herself), etc.  She’s flatly said that if she went to bed one night and didn’t wake up, it would be all right with her. This kind of stuff is really hard for G, especially since she sees her nearly every day.  I’m a bit better at detachment.

So, after some discussion between us, we decided to give our favorite plumber a call to see what he could do for her and send the bill to us.  He explained before to us that since he works basically on commission that sometimes he can make “deals” for good customers.

The upshot is that X will get a new water heater and have the toilets that have begun running constantly fixed with a brand-new heater, professional installation with a guarantee on parts and labor for at least 2 years, so if anything does go wrong, he’ll come back and check it for no more charge.

She’s worried that this will mess up the friendship, and really, we’re about the only friends she has here.  I know how she feels.  But it won’t, because what kind of friends would we be if we just let her go under, right?

It feels good to be on the giving side this time.

GG

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