Loving the Unlovable
// George DeTellis, Jr.
There is an old fashioned lumber company in my neighborhood where we buy a lot of materials. After you place your order inside with a clerk, you drive out back to a yard filled with sheds and racks where they store all the building materials.
There is one particular yard worker who loads my truck that is usually in a foul mood. Regardless of how pleasant I am, he still scowls and says rude things. I asked the other workers if he treats everybody that way or if he is just that way with me. They laughed, and told me he is like that to everybody. I hired two college students to do some concrete repairs in the basement of my house. To get this project completed, I estimated that we needed fifteen bags of redi-mix concrete.
Each bag weighs 80 pounds. I can work like a horse, but I can’t lift heavy weight after having spinal surgery in 2002. Ronnie, the yard worker, was furious that I wouldn't help load the pick-up truck. He just kept heaping insults on me. Then when I was leaving he said, “Next time bring someone with you who can help.” Driving away, for a moment I wanted to go inside and complain to Frank the manager for the way I was treated. After all, it was his job to load the truck.
But then I started to wonder what was Ronnie feeling about himself that made him always behave so badly. He was an alcoholic, and his face bore the scars from drinking so much. When loading my truck, he was always puffing away on a cigarette. I began to realize that Ronnie was probably feeling a lot of shame. His behavior towards others was an expression of his own pain.
The next day we needed nine more bags of concrete to finish the job. What was I going to do about Ronnie? I had two men working for me. Two big college students. I could have taken my workers with me in the morning. Instead, I decided to get up early and drive out of my way to a place called Gourmet Donuts to buy a dozen donuts for Ronnie. I took a big black sharpie and wrote, “For Ronnie” on the box. I arrived at the lumberyard first thing in the morning when they opened for business. After placing my order for nine bags of concrete, I drove right over to the shed where they store the concrete. Ronnie saw me right away. I could see the surprise on his face that I was back. When he walked over to the shed, I handed him the gift of a dozen donuts from Gourmet Donuts. I gave him a big smile, and told him I appreciated him. He was stunned. Without saying a word, he walked away with the box of donuts and carefully placed it on a skid of plywood to share with his coworkers. I could have complained to Ronnie’s employer. I could have fought back with insults. Instead, I blessed him with a box of donuts from Gourmet Donuts. Driving home I was glowing inside with a big smile on my face. I won Ronnie over with undeserved love. God’s grace is a gift. Like a box of donuts for Ronnie, we get what we don’t deserve. ~George DeTellis, Jr.