Updated: September 5, 2013 6:30AM
So I fudged a bit on a Latin test in 1939. Miss Cobb didn’t notice. I don’t believe in delayed punishment for sins like that, but I could be wrong.
Maybe Pat Robertson will tell me if I ask, but I won’t.
Job, that remarkable fellow in the Bible, had great patience during his tribulations and came out OK. I am trying and maybe I will be a stronger person because of my trials in July.
How was I tested? Let me count the ways. Minor stuff compared to Job’s problems, but heavy for a kid from the farm. There is a lesson in this.
My garage door imploded, sending nuts and bolts down on me. It was grotesque, a crumpled, warped piece of work. But the condo handyman, Joe Shone, did surgery with his tools, without offering a bit of pain killer and soon the door was healed. That guy can really fix things.
Then I was hit by an uncontrollable urge to buy a new vacuum sweeper, you know, a later model. “If I am going to push it, I want to be proud,” I said, my chin trembling. Mrs. V seemed unmoved, but I did the deed. I thought it would be ready to go, but not so. In the little booklet that came with it there was a part called “Guide D’utilisation.” And get this: “Ensamblado de la aspiradoran.”
Another section began with “Para conectar la manguera.” It was just too much. Then by a piece of desperate luck, I found a page that said “Vacuum assembly.” Finally, English, but the little pictures and instructions looked foreign to me. I said some bad words in four languages. Quietly.
I am lucky to have a friend like Lon Price, a retired Air Force sergeant. I remember that some sarges implied that they knew everything, but not Lon. He just wanted to help, and he did. He and his wife, Phyllis, put pieces into the right slots and just ignored me. They soon ran out of pieces, and it was ready to go. But it didn’t go. There was a vote on whether to remove a piece of plastic there by the on-off button. One voted yes, the other no, then they looked at me. I said, “Don’t ask me.” The fellow in a nearby shop said, “Let’s take it off.” He did and the machine played sweet music. Noisy, but nice.
At home Mrs. V almost smiled when I plugged it in, and I imagined that she said, “You bought it, now use it.” It is a swell machine. I can make real sharp left turns on the carpet.
Next, my computer went to sleep, and the bright young fellow who checked it said sorrowfully, “It is gone.” No heroic measures would work.
Our visiting son Fred went with me and we bought a new machine. I trust him. Years ago I installed a light over the front door and he said “That’s a nice light, but it is upside down.” I reworked it and the light illuminated the front door instead of the roof. I was so proud.
We hooked the new computer up, but I could not reach the Valhalla of computers — the Internet. The company sent me a new thing called a modem — it came five days later. Surprise! It was a puzzle too. Fred was gone. Then I remembered that I am lucky to have a friend like Bill Hahn. I figured that if two old choir tenors could not fix it there must be some sour notes in the instructions. He called the company — I was too nervous to do it.
The official technician came two days later and fiddled for 30 minutes, doing strange things. Finally he said, “You are on.” The new thing they call a modem sat there, its light on, grinning at me.
Two lessons I learned from this stretch of travail. One is that I can’t repair stuff. And when I meditate on the help I got from friends, I no longer wonder why nobody ever asks me for help. It seems clear now. In any language.