My mom used to say: no good deed shall go unpunished.
Burton was having a day of good deeds. He was helping set up a Halloween exhibit at a private home in Sarasota. Each year several hundred costumed visitors are treated to corpses, mangled bodies, witches, prisoners, ghosts, and other scary incarnations. Sue and Hoke turn their garage into a haunted scene complete with a “descending” elevator.
Several dozen friends and neighbors volunteer to create this transformation. The Saturday before Halloween is showtime.
This year’s theme is Harry Potter and the Devil’s Den. Burton printed banners on his commercial-sized printer. (My boy loves his toys.) He conducted magician apprentice school, teaching tricks to entertain kids waiting in line.
One day near the event an unrelated problem arose.
We had just bought a 60″ TV at Best Buy. Back home, the screen proved too wide. (Burton said 60″ would fit. I, a former design editor, didn’t check. Duh.) Busy wiring thunder and lightening effects for the Halloween display, Burton asked me to call our TV sales person. We could switch to a 55″, she said. There were two in stock. Sorry, she couldn’t hold one. Come soon.
Burton told Sue he’d be back in an hour. She looked stricken. It would take him two hours, she protested. “No it won’t,” he said. “Time me.”
Burton jumped in the SUV and zoomed out of the complex. Then he hit traffic. Eventually he pulled up to Best Buy in a No Parking zone and turned on his blinkers. The greeter was busy on his computer. 5 minutes later: How could he help? The blinkers kept blinking. The stock guy took more time to show, then told Burton to park in a legit spot. He did, vaguely sensing a problem with the car.
Back inside, three people waited at customer service. A trainee kept making mistakes on the computer. The real customer service clerk returned, thanked Burton for his patience. “It’s running out,” he said.
The lone mover finally showed up with the new TV. He told Burton to bring up the car. No luck. The extended use of blinkers had killed the battery. Expletive. Expletive.
The mover said the tire store on the next block might help. There a young employee with jumper cables drove his own car next to Burton’s. After three attempts, the SUV started.
A Brinks truck was parked in front of the store. You can’t park behind a Brinks truck. Who knew? Burton waited for Brinks to leave. At last the TV was loaded, well past Burton’s 1 hour estimate.
Fuming and swiveling from lane to lane, Burton rehashed the complications that had occurred.
Then he had an epiphany: “There were so many obstacles I realized that for some reason God didn’t want me to get back any sooner. Maybe to avoid an accident. I don’t know why. That thinking settled me down. And then I picked up on the Godsign.”
The mover, the first young man to help with Burton’s car crisis, was Andrew. The second, the clerk from the tire store, was David. Burton and I have two sons, both fine young men. (Our definition of “young” is expanding.) Their names: Andrew and David.
Burton made it back to the garage. Sue looked at her watch but did not say: I told you so.
(Did anything shift your attitude? Please share the stories with me.)