Looking Adversity In The Eye … And Smiling

“The robbed that smiles, steals something from the thief.”

— William Shakespeare, Othello

Chatting with Arturo, you’d never know that he just closed his business. For good.

Arturo. Smiling in the face of adversity.

As we talked last Sunday on a very large, warm Oregon sand dune, watching hundreds of energized Whitford middle school marching band’ers run screaming down the hill, he only had smiles.

He smiled when we talked about hauling the marching band wagons three miles. He smiled when he talked about his family. He even smiled a little extra when he described a repair job he had done recently for an elderly gentleman.

The elderly gentleman in question was a 92-year-old man with a leaky ceiling. Arturo came out to the man’s house. The man wanted Arturo to patch the roof. The funny (scary) thing was the the 92-year old was out on a ladder trying to fix it himself when Arturo arrived. He promised the elderly man that he would fix the roof, provided that the man never go up on the roof again. The man promised. Arturo was thankful.

Arturo talked with his co-workers and his teenage son. (His eyes really lit up whenever he talked about his son & daughter) Together, they would patch the roof. It was a big job as there was a lot of damage. I’m not sure how long it took, but it took awhile. That was ok with him because his priorities in business are – be honest, be responsible, and be on time. It was clear that he took those priorities seriously.

Thus far, this sounds like a normal day at the office for a roofer with his own business. The catch is that the work was done for free. All the men’s time was donated on the weekend. It was part of a volunteer job that they worked on through an organization in Portland that helps people fix up their homes. (I missed the name.)

This is the what Arturo said makes him happy – helping people. As we talked more, I found out why he wasn’t upset that he had to close down his business a few weeks ago because of a bad business partner. He now as a new job doing less roof work and he gets to help people upgrade their homes to be more energy efficient. He’s employed, has a happy family, and was volunteering as a chaperone for his daughter that Sunday. Arturo’s got his priorities lined up.

We concluded our conversation with a couple more stories. One, of a friend of his who emerged from a coma recently with a new lease on life and another bittersweet tale of laying his father to rest back in Mexico a few years ago. While he talked, he smiled.

It was soon time to go. As we walked back down the sand dune, middle schoolers streamed around us and funneled off the dune onto the busses. Arturo had his back to me as he walked away.

It wouldn’t have surprised me if he was smiling.

Today’s gift of time … After I changed the reader board at my daughter’s school, I got an email. The date on the board was wrong as the information I was sent was wrong. The school is a ways a way, but I didn’t hesitate to take my lunch hour to drive down and change it… As I drove I thought about Arturo’s story and how he would have handled this situation. … I smiled.

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About Eric Winger

Our perception of time is key to how we use our time. The most fundamental way to change that perception is to give our time. This opens us up to new opportunities and ideas from which we can build to really make a difference. ... Yes, we *do* have time to make a difference!
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