Guest column: And he turns out to be something very different

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By Marion Nicolay

Marco Island

If I live to a 100, I may outgrow some of my bad habits. Do not quote me on this, because I work on it all then time and it hasn’t happened yet.

As a widow, I am required to deal with tradesmen and artisans of every conceivable type, in and out of my house at will as they work on various projects when things break down. This seems to happen with some regularity as the house and I age. I am beginning to have a jaundiced eye for the process.

I am also accustomed to people who work outside using my hoses by loosening them, moving them around, drinking from them, and so forth.

I have actually lost five hoses in 25 years — part of the cost of doing business in Florida, I suppose. In my worst moments, I harbor dark thoughts and suspect everyone of this thievery, even the poor postman.

The other day I went outside to wash my trash cans, which smelled to high heaven from something I discarded which ripened in the wonderful Florida sunshine. To my dismay, I found the hose by the driveway missing. There has been a crew working next door on a vacant house for some weeks, scrubbing, painting, up on the roof. I wave to them as I go out for the mail, but I do not speak Spanish so we do not communicate well.

In a fit of temper, I found a hose inside the lanai in back and lugged it to the faucet by the drive, but the house, as I said is old, and the hose would not screw onto the pipe. I struggled with it for a while, then looked around for help. Nobody was in sight except for the workmen next door, and I approached one of them timidly, having just blamed him in my mind for the theft of the hose.

I tried all of my college French on him to no avail. Don’t try to tell me romance languages are similar. He never understood a word.

Finally, with the help of my few Spanish words and some creative charades on my part, I managed to convey the I needed help and I led him to the faucet, making twisting motions with my hands and pointing to the hose.

His face lit up, and he quickly accomplished what I was unable to do with the connection. He then dragged the end of the hose around to my trash cans, making motions like washing.

I nodded to say that I was intending to do this, and instead he grabbed the cans as though they weighed nothing and had both of them washed out in a twinkling, and left them upside down to drain. He even coiled the hose and returned it to the faucet location.

I wanted to hug him, but decided to try thanking him in Spanish, which I am sure I did not manage very well.

We shook hands and he departed to his other job next door, leaving me to realize that I had damned him for a thief and he had been full of brotherly love and had come to my aid.

They say the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, but there must also be one for people who jump to conclusions, prejudge strangers on first sight and act as though the world is out to get us.

The Good Book tells us to think well of strangers and love our neighbors, and I really am trying hard.

As I said, let me live to 100 and I promise to reform.

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