Today started out an ordinary day.
I had scheduled a vacation day to start my holiday weekend early. I got up at 8 am, got showered, and put on a pot of coffee. I had a busy day planned to get all my errands done before we headed south to Houston this weekend for my best friend’s daughter’s wedding.
I had scheduled the painters to come and redo my bathroom shower. I scheduled it for this weekend knowing we would be out of town and we would not be able to use the shower for 48 hours.
A young man knocked on our door around 9:30 am. Our dog, Lana, has anxiety issues and gets nervous when visitors come over, especially if she doesn’t know them. She was barking and growling. I opened the door and asked him to wait while we put our dog away. He looked at me a little confused and responded in Spanish. I know the Spanish word for dog but couldn’t remember it at the time. After trying to explain to him in English a few times, it became clear that he and I could not understand each other’s language well. I finally responded, “Uno Momento”. He smiled, said, “Ah,” and nodded his head. At last, we made a connection. I light-heartedly tell him that I speak poquito Español. He chuckles and reply’s that he speaks little English.
We get Lana put away and I invite our painter guest inside. He begins to speak to us in Spanish again. We’re both using hand gestures mixed with English and Spanish word sentences. I am partially deaf so using hand signals for communication works for me, although I am not fluent in ASL either. I turned to my son and ask him to translate in Spanish, who looks at me like a deer in headlights. In my mind, I was thinking, “Dude, you took TWO years of Spanish in high school.” Jaren then typed a sentence in his iPhone, then translated it into Spanish. Modern technology has it benefits. Jaren shows it to the painter. The painter quickly understands and said, “Perro”. I said, “Si, our perro.” I was trying to tell him that we were putting our dog in the kennel because she was barking and growling and I didn’t want him to be fearful while he was here painting. He explained to us that we needed to take our dog out of our home for a few hours because the fumes from the paint were dangerous for dogs. I confirmed I understood and got Lana ready to leave.
I had previously scheduled an appointment for Lana at the Vets today for a follow up from an earlier injury and to get her nails trimmed; although, the appointment was not until later, at 1:30 pm and it was currently 10:00 am. Thankfully, our Vet is a VCA hospital which has both pet daycare and overnight boarding services. I figured I could just use their daycare services for a few hours, drop Lana off, run some errands, and then stop back for her appointment.
Lana and I walked into VCA. I tell them I need to board her for a few hours before her appointment because of the paint fumes in our home. While they begin the paper work, I see a lady with a small dog sitting and waiting for their appointment. Her dog was somewhat anxious and playful, puppy like. He was excited to see Lana and wanted to come over and greet her. The lady tries to contain her dog and keep him close but somehow he gets loose and comes right over to Lana who backs up and softly growls. Lana can be funny sometimes on whether she wants to be social or not. I tap Lana with my foot and tell her, “No!” Just then, the woman comes over and picks up her dog.
The front staff finishes checking in Lana and then takes her back to the boarding area. I turned to the lady with the dog and asked her if her dog is friendly. She said yes. I walk closer. Her dog comes over to greet me, placing his front paws on my legs. I ask her what his name is. She said his name is Louie. I was like, “Awe, so cute.” I tell Louie (and his mom) that I was sorry for how Lana acted. I tell him that she has anxiety issues. I tell him how cute he is. The lady said Louie is one year old and was getting his shots before he leaves for Mexico. The lady was white so I was curious about the story. I am not sure how exactly I responded but I think I said, “Mexico?” Then she told me her daughter just died. My heart sunk right then and there. I told her that I was sorry to hear that. She said her daughter’s best friend agreed to take Louie. She said her daughter had been sick and was in and out of the hospital for the last year. I wondered if that is why she got Louie, to keep her daughter company. I asked her if she had other dogs. She said she already had several dogs which is why she couldn’t keep Louie. She also said she was planning on traveling over the next several weeks. I understood. I was curious about her daughter, how old was she, why did she die. I know it was some sort of medical condition. I asked her what her daughter’s name was. She said, “Caroline.” I knew there was nothing I could say that would take her sadness or grief away. And I really didn’t want to waste words on empty clichés. So I reached over and gave her a warm hug and embraced her for a moment. I felt her sadness. She said, “Oh, that’s so nice of you.” It was all I could think to do. I felt my embrace may mean much more than my words.
I get in the car and call my son, Jaren. I ask him how the fumes are. He said it was so bad that he had to leave. He was just riding around in his car. Neither of us had eaten yet so I suggested we meet up somewhere. We met at local restaurant that I wanted my son to try. I had been there only once before and enjoyed it. They have things like quiche and custom cakes and everything is homemade. We each got a quiche, one Florentine, one broccoli and cheese. Jaren got chicken gumbo soup. I got tomato bisque. We cut our quiche in half and shared it. Then we just talked. It was the best part of my day.
We leave the restaurant. I head for the VCA hospital for Lana’s appointment. Jaren heads back home.
I decided to stop by my bank real quick, which was on the way to VCA hospital. My lease ended in August. I had gone way over my mileage and I didn’t want to be penalized if/when I returned my lease. I also had a few dings here and there. And I was concerned about getting an approval with a low rate with no money down. Mostly, I still loved my Corolla and I was not ready to get another car. I had stopped by my bank a few weeks prior to see about getting an auto loan. Aparna, a Relationship Banker was very friendly and helpful. She called their auto loan division and then put me on the phone to start the approval process. Within a few weeks, I was approved for the full balance owed Toyota at a low rate.
Since I had began speaking directly with the Auto Loan division after my initial in-person conversation, Aparna called me and left a message to follow up on my auto loan status and approval. I wanted to return her call but had not had the chance yet. I thought this was the perfect opportunity to stop by in person to personally thank her. I was hoping she was working today. I walked in and Aparna was working and available which almost never happens. There is almost always a wait to see any relationship banker at this branch. She sees me and asks if she can help me. I walk over to her office and remind her that she called and left me a message and that she helped me with my auto loan. She said she remembered. I tell her I got approved! I shook her hand with genuine gratitude and thanked her so much for her help. She smiled warmly and proudly. She said she was glad she could help.
I leave the bank and drive to the VCA hospital. They bring Lana up front and take us to a room for her appointment. The Veterinarian comes in the room smiling. She is new to this office. I like her already. We talk about Lana. She says they already trimmed her nails and that Lana looks healthy and is walking fine. I was happy to hear that. She says Lana is a sweet girl. I am touched by her comment. Lana is a sweet girl but I don’t often hear others say that because of her anxiety, she can appear mean.
Lana was adopted from a local animal services in the summer of 2014. She was a stray that was found with her canine mom and four other siblings on the streets of Dallas. I still wonder how they ended up on the streets. The puppies were two to three months old when found. Lana has a story but I will probably never know her story. I have such love and respect for her canine mom. How she managed to take care of five (maybe more at one time) puppies, alone, on the streets of a large metropolitan city seems like an insurmountable task. The streets are not a kind place for humans or animals. That must have been difficult. As a single mother myself, I understand. I’m thankful that she and her puppies were found and that animal services were able to help her by finding homes for her puppies. When we found Lana, only she and her brother were left and he got adopted one day before Lana. Even Lana’s mom had been adopted before her last two puppies. I wonder how all those experiences impacted her.
The Veterinarian confesses that other workers warned her that Lana can be funny sometimes. She said Lana was fine with her. She said she just walked over to Lana’s kennel and took her right out. I smile with pride and tell the Veterinarian that Lana must have sensed a good vibe from her.
As we finished up the appointment, the Veterinarian tells me there is no charge for the visit. I have pet insurance with VCA so this was not a surprise. However, nail trimming is not part of the services covered under the insurance. I had expected to pay $15.00 for this service so I remind her about the nail trimming. She tells me that I don’t need to pay for the nail trimming today. She said, “You don’t have any charges today.” I was delightfully surprised. I graciously thanked her.
I tell her that I need to leave Lana in daycare for a little longer because I want to be sure the fumes are gone. I said I was going to run a few errands and would pick her up within two hours. I tell her I will pay for the daycare services when I return. Then she tells me that they aren’t going to charge me for the daycare either. I am thinking, “What?” She says they are open 24 hours and I can come back anytime. By now, I am astonished. I have paid them to trim Lana’s nails before. I have paid them for daycare. I have paid them for boarding. I have paid them for other medical services. I was truly humbled by their generosity and I deeply expressed my appreciation.
I leave and drive less than a mile down the road to Midas to get my oil changed in my car. I have been going to this Midas for fifteen years. They are good guys and good mechanics. I don’t have an appointment but I ask if they can fit me in. Charles, the front desk clerk said yes but it will be about an hour and a half. I tell him that is fine. In my mind, I am thinking this is perfect because by then, the fumes should be almost gone so I can pick up Lana and head home.
As I sit down, there is another older lady there waiting. After about thirty minutes, Charles walks over to her and asks her where she got her last oil change. He shows her a part and says they stripped this which is why you have a leak. The woman responded she didn’t know she had a leak and asked how much that part will cost. Charles says about $5.00. I could see that this woman wasn’t sure she could trust this shop. I found out that this was her first time to this Midas shop. I tell her I have been coming here for fifteen years and they are always fair and do not try to sell you something you don’t need. There was an older male who came in after me who also chimed in with agreement and said he had been going there for years too. He said another dealer tried to sell him a costly part for his Cadillac one time. He said he came to Midas for a second opinion who told him that he didn’t need the part. We both tell her that the workers are long time employees. Charles walks back in the lobby. I ask him how long he has worked there. He replies, “Fifteen years.” He says that Ken worked there for twelve years and another guy for like ten years. I tell her they have always treated me like they would treat their mother or their daughter. They don’t appear corporate like many other nationwide corporate chains do. They are respectful, personable, and treat their customers like friends.
Binoy tells me my car is ready. I think, “Already?” It was less than an hour. He asked me how I am doing. I asked him if he remembers me because I had the free, complimentary three-year Toyota service when I leased my new Corolla and I purchased an additional two-year maintenance service from the dealer so I had not been to the shop in a while for service. However, I would stop by the shop with a question if I needed some expert advise. I also referred my son there for his first used car purchase. Binoy said he remembered me and remembered giving me a ride once. I said, “Oh, yes!”
I told the woman about the time Binoy offered to drive me home one Saturday so I didn’t have to wait around on my then ten-year-old Corolla. I was having some extra work done that day so it was going to take a little longer. He also picked me up once it was ready. Granted, I only lived a couple miles from the shop but still, this is not a service that is expected or provided by this shop. This shop goes the extra mile for it’s customers.
Binoy then tells me he gave me a $10.00 discount today on my oil change. I usually have a coupon because I am that kind of person. Earlier in the day, I thought about going to another lube shop closer to home, since we moved farther away a few years ago. I knew I wanted to get a quick oil change before our trip to Houston. But since I was so close, less then a mile away already, and I was going to have to pay full price anyway, I figured I’d rather pay full price here than at any other shop. So when Binoy gave me the discount without a coupon, I was incredibly grateful. I humbly offer my gratitude and shake his hand.
I pay, get my keys, and say good-bye. Binoy says, “God Bless You.”
On the way home, I saw a line of American Flags in front of our Art Center in honor of Labor Day.
I couldn’t help but think of all the wonderful services all these folks provided to me today as well as to all the other folks. The various businesses and the various levels of service, some with degrees and some without, from various people, young and old; black, brown, and white; Americans, Naturalized Citizens, and Immigrants.
I thought about the folks organizing the wedding and who will be working this event this Labor Day Weekend to help make this a memorable occasion for the daughter of my dear friend and the groom and all their family and friends attending.
And then I thought about Perla, another dear friend who offered to dog sit for us while we go out of town for the wedding.
This is what makes America great! All of these folks each have a story to tell and stories to share, each working, laboring, serving, and volunteering their time and talents to help people like me and you, trying to make a difference, each of us living our experience the best way we know how. And I am truly grateful for each one of these people, for their services, their smiles, their warm gestures and caring nature, and for their kind and generous discounts and freely donated services.
Today was still an ordinary day but it had extraordinary moments.
I hope each of you has a wonderful Labor Day Weekend.
Please be safe and God Bless You