Yesterday, I saw love in my husband’s eyes, heard pride in his voice. “It was pretty cool how you went to that drop-off station and unloaded that big couch and those two heavy doors all by yourself.”
Ray had planned all week that he was the one who would be taking a necessary load to the landfill in order to finish up the post-fire renovation of our rental condo in Fort Worth. When I offered to go instead, he told me that everything was just too heavy for me; that he was going to have to do it. I argued that he was more useful working at the condo since there were several tasks that required his expertise. He finally relented after I pointed out that all I had to do was pull the things out and make sure they landed on the ground. Unloading was a lot easier than loading, after all. Then we discovered there was a drop off station not too far away rather than the long trip to the landfill. That added a bit of sweetness to a far from sweet task.
Ray and Darrah, our friend who was helping with the renovation, loaded the truck while I made a sandwich to eat along the way. Time was of the essence since we had a plane to caught in early evening. When I arrived at the drop-off center, I was greeted at the entrance by a friendly 50-something African American man.
He walked back and looked in the truck. “What you got here?”
“Just those three pieces,” I said. “No big deal.”
“You really think you can handle all that by yourself?”
He gave me a long look, as if he was sizing up the probability of my success, then smiled. “Well, okay, but if it’s too much, you come get me and I’ll help you. I wish I could go with you right now, but I have all them to deal with.” He nodded in the direction of four vehicles loaded with building scraps and trash that had pulled in behind me.
“Don’t you worry,” I said. “I think I’ll be just fine.”
After I backed into slot #6 and jumped out to release the truck’s tailgate, I saw that the dump station was designed so you could throw the trash down into the dumpster whose top was flush with the tailgate. The only problem was that my assigned dumpster was almost full so there was no dropping the big couch in, I was going to have to scoot it over the top of an uneven surface of trash.
I started pushing the 8-foot, smoke-damaged couch out of the truck bed when a Hispanic woman who had pulled up next to me with a truckload of small trash came running over to help me. “I think I’ve got it,” I called as I tilted the couch up and over, hoping the gust of wind that suddenly came up didn’t pull me into the dumpster with the couch. Luckily, I was able to jump back into the truck bed in time. The woman smiled, then headed back to her vehicle. “Thank you,” I called as I tugged out the six-panel steel front door the fireman had hacked into at the lock so they could enter the condo. After that, I only had to push out the glass-paneled steel back door. It was heavy, but I was able to slide it right on top of the other door. Piece of cake. I waved at the nice man at the gate as I was driving out. He gave me a big grin and a thumbs up.
Ray was pleased when I returned in such a timely fashion with my task accomplished. He was clearly relieved that he wasn’t going to have to make that trip himself, particularly given our time constraints. I think he was especially pleased that his 4’11” tall wife hadn’t let her size deter her from getting the job done. Today, he mentioned the trip again, this time saying, “It’s not like just anybody can wrestle an 8-foot couch all alone.” In Ray Beaty language that is a profession of pure respect.
I must admit that hearing those words caused me to stand just a little bit taller with pride.