I arrived to the job a few minutes after Mike had backed his trailer along one side of the wide gravel driveway. In front of his truck, was an easy access to the front yard of this backwoods, country living log cabin home, and I thought I might park there to ease congestion in the drive. Front tires went in, and then as I got a better picture of the layout, I backed out, turned around and slid in just off the other side of the driveway with my SUV. Just right, I thought, for allowing me easy access to my tools, and leaving a wide enough lane open for the homeowner to get his pickup truck out between our work vehicles if needed.
A few minutes later, as I was opening the trailer and getting a few supplies out and ready for our job, I found out differently!
"Did you park on my grass?" was suddenly bellowed toward me as the owner came out of the garage.
"Yeah", I smiled and laughed quietly, ready for a big act. It's November. The ground is stiff with looming frost and the grass is half dead and buried under fallen leaves on this wooded lot. Who could really be upset about my zero impact driving? But it was no act.
The poor guy demanded that this was no joke. And how would I like it if he came to my house and drove on my lawn in the spring; he asked me where I live, and then asked for my address and warned me to memorize the grill of his truck so, come springtime, I would recognize the vengeance when it fell. I am giving him more poetic credit than he deserves and leaving out my pepperings of "Yes, of course you are right.", and about a dozen "I'm sorry sirs.", but you get the idea. The man was irate, and I could only be apologetic and work to avoid any hint of my inner intransigence.
Mike heard the shouting from the road where he was perforating the lawn with a business sign (oh my) and asked "Is there a problem?" As I walked away to move my truck the few inches off of the dirty driveway shoulder and onto the driveway proper, I made another mistake. I called Mike something I never thought I would : "I already apologized to him SIR!" That, I will never live down. By the time I moved my truck, the guy was out of sight and all was quiet.
Mike and I had a few private laughs about the guy waiting for muddy Spring to mete out his equal treatment, instead of heading for my house right now, as I gathered myself back together and remembered my responsibility to do the job before me, and no less. I told Mike that one of my favorite verses is one of the most highly applicable:
"A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger." Proverbs 15:1
A little later I was working on the front door and had to step aside when the lady of the house drove up and then came in with a couple very large baskets of flowers. She did not seem happy, and I began to put two and two together. "Somebody from this home died recently" I told Mike. They looked like funereal flowers; the kind that somebody has to take home from the church after all is said and done. When all are sad, and done in; when the normal aggravation of an errant workman puts one over the top, and beyond civility. When patience and easy forgiveness are warranted, and must be exercised.
As I worked on that door the owner sat down behind me to watch. (Normally I charge double if someone watches, and triple if they help, but I decided not to mention that this time.) He had calmed down amazingly and offered me some inside knowledge about an electrical wire running right behind the door jamb I was about to put some long screws into. The absent log home builder took some abuse for his folly in letting that happen, but my work was progressing without any negative interference. I took a moment to compliment him about his beautiful home. It was indeed nicely laid out and very well decorated. If it weren't for the massive tire ruts all over the yard, this property would.....no, I will not let the sarcasm out this time.
Over the next few hours, as the owner hung about while Mike and I put in some new windows, it came out that the man's 90 year old Mother had died the week before. He never apologized for going off on me, and probably never thought he should. But the man certainly did mellow out and I will be all too happy to go back when the next batch of windows needs to be replaced. Of course, I will park in the very middle of the driveway.