A Gentle Man with a Stubborn Streak

24 09 2009

A delightful gentleman comes into the Restore every week on the day I volunteer.  He’s in his eighties, I think, and is one of those people you can tell is very smart, though he certainly doesn’t flaunt it.  Things just come up in conversation that reveal this guy is no slouch.  He’s lived a long and interesting life, and he’s shared bits and pieces of it with us over time.

I volunteer one day a week, and I used to think he only came in that day, to see the Thursday volunteers.  I guess I was a little disappointed to find out he comes in every day to see everybody.  So we’re special, just not that special.  Then I found out he doesn’t just hit the Restore.  He has other shops on Route 1 that he frequents, with friends at every stop who no doubt love him as much as we do.  That’s okay.  There’s enough of George to go around.

Whenever he has something to donate that he thinks one of us might like, he gives us first dibs on it.  I got a nice oriental rug for my living room that way.  And a wooden baseball bat that has “The Dougster” scratched on it.  I thought it referred to his son, but he informed me it was the neighbor kid.  I kept it because my son thinks it’s funny and I feel sentimental about it.

A year and a half ago George’s family and his doctor decided he needed some fairly serious surgery to improve and extend his life.  He was not convinced, but, under pressure from them (the term ambush comes to mind), he relented.  His recovery was a struggle, especially considering he was pretty annoyed going in, but in retrospect it was a good call.  For a week or two after the surgery when he was able to get out and about a bit but not up for driving, his wife brought him in.  She is just as sweet as he is, but we know that if she comes in with him, all is not right with the world.

So I guess that should have been my first clue when I looked up last week and saw them both in the store.  Plus the fact that it was afternoon, and he always shows up promptly at opening time.  But it wasn’t till I saw his black eye that I really got concerned.

It turns out that the day before he had gotten held up when he got in the car in the parking lot at the grocery store. This was not on some back alley.  It was at a big, newly-remodeled strip mall—Staples, Home Depot, TJ Maxx, Bed Bath and Beyond, Michaels, and grocery store.  And it wasn’t late at night on a moonless evening.  It was at 10:00 a.m.  The guy snuck behind him as he sat in the driver’s seat, put his arm around George’s neck, and demanded the cash from his wallet.  George was so mad he threw the wallet to the side as he reached for it.  Which made the guy madder and resulted in a huge lump on George’s forehead, the black eye, and a substantial contusion on his forearm.

Perhaps most amazing was the fact that later that day the guy turned himself in.

Anyway, I’m wondering if George should have put up such a fight, putting himself more at risk.

I’m also reminded of what we all know.  Look in and around your car before you get in.  It’s smart to be cautious about where you go and when you go there, but nothing makes up for being alert to your environment. Plus lock your door as soon as you get in the car.

And I’m realizing that as charming a fellow as George is, he’s definitely got a stubborn streak!



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