My teacher today, unexpectedly, is the repairman
at the vacuum cleaner shop. I go in for replacement bags
for my old Kenmore. He wants to see my machine,
to know if he can repair the broken hose. He laughs
when I tell him I have been using duct tape, asks me
if I understand what vacuum means. Tells me even
a pin-prick can reduce the function. Says he used to place
the hose in his pocket and run it like that to show people
the wasted effort of using old equipment. But you can
push it around that way if you want to. He smiles.
There will be many stories. His son is an engineer.
Works hard. Is prone to grumble. He teaches him
about the fruitless use of being sad. How people do not
want to be around you. How loneliness then creeps in.
Tells him, no matter what must be done, do it smilingly.
He reaches out his hand, pats my arm on the counter.
Says even bad news can be made good by a kind touch.
I have paid nearly one hundred dollars for a used hose
for my twenty year old vacuum. And for his stories.
© by Judith Heron.
Used with the author’s permission.