“Open door, open hearts, open minds.”
That’s what the banner said.
“Then anything can fall in and anything can drop out,” I commented.
Denny thought that was really funny.
We were coming back from Ikea on a rainy Sunday afternoon. I only work mornings until two, five days a week and we decided to go and look for a vanity for the bathroom, which I didn’t expect to find. When you have something specific in mind your likelihood of finding it is greatly reduced, and I had a pretty specific idea.
We stopped in at my work because I wanted to show Denny a vacuum that can be strapped on your back. I accidentally threw the wand into the dumpster. I thought it was trash. I wanted Denny to help me fish it out. But when we got to the dumpster we could’t see it. It was buried under the trash.
It was an ancient thing. It probably didn’t work anymore. The current janitor didn’t use it.
I wasn’t going to crawl in there to retrieve the wand. Denny suggested I take the vacuum to the Thrift Store without the wand. We put it in my trunk. It was of no use to us without the wand.
I admit for the longest time I hadn’t even known it was a vacuum. I thought it was a leaf blower. Until yesterday, when I found some vacuum bags and me and the janitor figured out that they were for the contraption on the floor that turned out to be a vacuum cleaner.
The way it straps on, it would work great for suicide bombers too, I think to myself, wryly.
Before we leave the premises one of the tenants nabs me with a problem. I suggest we sit down inside and discuss the concern. Denny sits by and listens.
“You did good,” Denny tells me later in the car. “You noticed, I kept my mouth shut. I didn’t say anything to try and solve the problem. I just made an observation.”
“That’s why I didn’t come with you yesterday,” Denny goes on. “I didn’t think you would want me there. I can’t keep calm like you with stuff like that. You’re better at that than I am.”
It was just a storage issue. The tenant wanted more storage space. I couldn’t offer them more. So we talked about it until it finally became clear to them.
“You wait, and listen, and you find a way, where there doesn’t seem to be a way,” Denny says.
I smile, “I know, it’s kind of a miracle.”
“But you do it. Don’t ever underestimate your role in that place.”
I’m always amazed at how amazed Denny is at me. I’m just doing my job.
I used to think it was because he didn’t have very high expectations of me that I could surprise him so easily. I’m still not sure if that isn’t the case.
“Focus on the victories, like today,” Denny continues. “Not on the struggles. I tell you about my victories, and not usually about my struggles, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have them. It’s far better to think about the victories, though.”
Today was a tiring day. A team of men at work, mostly volunteers, are planning on doing a major kitchen renovation. The guy taking charge told me that he thinks it will cost in the neighborhood of thirty to forty grand. Since my building care budget was cut in half this year there is no money.
The stickler is that we have received a donation of used kitchen equipment—stoves, refrigerators and a dishwasher.
I tried to put the brakes on before we got the equipment. The men not only want to renovate the kitchen, they want to gut two storage areas. We are already short on storage.
Focus on the victories, I tell myself. Don’t underestimate your role in that place.
“Go to the mattresses,” I visualize Meg Ryan punching the air, quoting The Godfather, in You’ve Got Mail. “Fight, fight…float like a butterfly, sting like a bee,” punch, punch.
Tomorrow I think I’ll go and get a gym membership.