A few months ago, I mentioned my garden being in need of some serious TLC and a friend suggested I got in touch with a guy from high school who owned a business.
– Are you nuts?! No way! That guy is an idiot and a racist!
– Exactly! You’ll get to boss him around.
– I really don’t care about that. I won’t give him a job.
I am the kind of person who will stop shopping at a place if the personal has been rude or unfair to me or someone I care about. I take my business where my heart is. Paying someone I knew for a fact was a bully? Heck, no.
Flashforward to 2 weeks ago. After a few stressful months pushing for quotes, the damage that was caused by a storm while I was abroad could finally be fixed. My kitchen supplier took more than 3 months to provide me with the necessary administration but as soon as the paperwork was sorted out, my insurer got flying and paid my due. The next day, I decided I would hire someone to do the painting; a professional would be far more effective than little poor exhausted me. The only question was: Who? And the Universe answered it for me. That night, I received an invite to like a high school friend’s page: he is a contractor. I knew I had to contact him.
Our lives get imprinted with people. Some leave an everlasting mark, a wound that never completely heals, a scar that throbs at their mention and reopens in their presence. Others are remembered as a warm ray of sunlight on one’s face. That is what this contractor was to me. We were in the same class on our first year of high school (at age 12, in Belgium). He was oblivious to my « past » even though I dragged it along in human form. I had been bullied in 4th grade. I do not recall happy memories from that year. I only remember anxiety, fear, an overwhelming feeling of injustice and basically depression. I thought the bullying as I knew it aged 9 had disappeared but the cunning adult I am today sees it had only transformed. My main bully had transferred schools when we were 11 but her happy little helpers had not; some of them were in my new class. I had learned I was ugly and that being bright meant I was uncool. This kid was standing at the opposite end of my spectrum. He was über cute and super cool. He was the archetype of the popular kid who would mentally or physically hurt me to score better on the social scale. But he wasn’t. He was the sweetest boy in the class. Not only was he nice to everybody, he was nice to me. We were both fans of a group of comedians and if their show had been on the previous night, he would come up to me:
– Did you watch it? It was soooo funny!
We would replay the sketches we knew by heart (we taped the shows on VHS; yes, I’m that old) and laugh so much my belly would hurt. I valued his friendship more than any other: it was effortless. He made me feel special. Today, I would add: « as any friendship should » but I did not know back then that one was not supposed to play a part to be accepted, I assumed I had to adapt. Now I see that the reason I never forgot him is because I could be myself and be appreciated for that reason only.
The next year, we were not in the same class and he eventually changed schools. I ran into him the day I did my driver’s licence exam (we had both passed, in case you wonder); he had not changed.
20 years later, last Friday, he came to my house and in between chats about walls, ceiling and roof, we talked about life. He has a big family now and I am sure he will give these children the same values he has obviously been brought up with: kindness and respect. Today, he called to discuss planning and when I hung up, I felt incredibly good. I was simply happy I could give him the job.
Life gives back and whenever I can, I do too.
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