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Dividends

September 3rd, 2017

I always repeat something my mother told me. She said you’re very lucky if you have one good friend. I have several good friends, so I guess I’m pretty blessed.

This weekend I had to go to Miami to retrieve various things the movers didn’t bring. I also had to get my pickup truck started and bring it back to Ocala. I was not looking forward to the trip. Miami is boiling hot this time of year; it feels like the sun has turned inside out. Also, I just generally don’t want to be in Miami. I foresaw a great deal of miserable, sweaty work, combined with suffering simply from being in a rotten place full of rude people who can’t drive.

A week or so back, I was talking to my old friend Alonzo. I met him back during my Trinity Church days. We were both armorbearers. I told him about my upcoming trip. He said he was off this weekend, and he insisted on going with me. He and his family live in Orlando. He’s one of the hardest-working people I know. He has five kids, from four years old to fourteen. He never gets to sit down. But he spent his free weekend driving 300 miles to help me retrieve things from a place he hates.

He used to live in Miami. It was not a good experience. The year before he moved to Orlando, he applied for 47 jobs and got no offers. When he decided to move to Orlando, he applied for 6 jobs in the area, and he got 6 offers. He’s black, and he does not speak Spanish. Sorry to say it, but neither of those qualities is helpful in a city where Cubans do most of the hiring. He has a good job now, and so does his wife. They live in a house, not a cheesy apartment. They have two nice vehicles.

He says visiting Miami makes him feel miserable. He doesn’t even like to go there to visit family.

Anyway, he said he was going to help me get my junk, and my law school friend Amanda donated her weekend to looking after my dad. She brought her three boys to the house, and they stayed here. She cooked and generally fretted over my dad. She brought food. When I returned this evening, there were brownies and praline pecans waiting. That’s Amanda for you.

My friend Travis is watching my dad’s house while we get it ready to rent. This is advantageous to him, because he gets free housing while he attends the University of Miami, but it’s a huge help to me. No one is going to break in with him there, and he can help me with long-distance problems that pop up.

I picked Alonzo up on Saturday morning, and off we went. We had a funny conversation as we got closer to Miami. We kept noticing the rudeness of the drivers increasing. Aloud, we wondered what acts of rudeness would welcome us to Dade County. We knew it was coming. It always does. You leave town, you relax, and then when you drive back, the tension increases, and suddenly people are cutting you off in traffic or tailgating or being nasty to you when you stop to get gas. I guess everyone says the same thing we do: “Welcome to Miami!”

He kept correcting me when I used the word “home” to refer to Miami, and I thanked him for that. Miami has never been my home, and it damned sure isn’t now.

Excuse my emotion.

When we got to the house, Travis had arranged the remaining junk as well as possible, so the house looked less like the scene of a tornado. I appreciated that. He wasn’t home, but Alonzo helped me with everything I needed to do. He helped me put two new batteries in the truck. He helped me remove all the valuable items from my dad’s yacht, which is important now that we’re selling it. He put boxes together. He organized the whole affair.

The next day, Travis, Alonzo and I spent several unpleasant hours packing things and putting them in my truck and my dad’s SUV. The sun was so hot, stepping out of the glare and into the shade felt like walking into an air-conditioned house. Sweat ran off of all of us. They never complained. Not once. They grabbed the heaviest things before I could.

We got two scuba tanks, an 80-cubic-foot C25 tank, a 125-cubic-foot argon tank, over a dozen big toolboxes, numerous rifles, heavy ammunition, cast iron cookware, stainless pots, lots of power tools, a 3-foot pipe wrench, and other things I can’t even remember. A compressor. A refrigerated air dryer. A huge phase converter in a steel cabinet.

We didn’t get to the house in Ocala until nearly 7 p.m. When I got there, Amanda and Alonzo flew into action. Amanda carried the C25 tank and the refrigerated air dryer. That startled me. Alonzo carried the compressor. I was busy myself, so I couldn’t stop them. I would turn around, and there they would be, lugging my belongings.

Loading the vehicles took several hours. Unloading probably took fifteen minutes. Even my dad got into the act.

When we were done, Alonzo’s wife showed up in their SUV with their 5 kids. They poured in. The whole house lit up. Alonzo’s kids and Amanda’s kids got along great. I showed them the pool and told them they were welcome any time their parents saw fit to bring them.

I saw my goddaughter Gabriella hugging Amanda’s son Sean like he was the greatest thing she had ever seen. She hugs everyone. I don’t know what has come over her. It hasn’t been that long since she bit me at my old church.

Everyone had to clear out in a very short time because of the hour. Alonzo and crew had to get back to Orlando, and I’m sure Amanda was ready to go home.

The house was in better shape than when I left it. Most of my crucial junk was here where I needed it. Not bad.

Alonzo insists he’s going to make another run with me. I can get a U-Haul and a hitch for the truck, and he wants to start on a Friday night and drive back on a Sunday. This is the guy who hates Miami more than I do. Maybe.

When you invest in people, it pays off. You may not be able to get a return from the people you wish would return your feelings, but God will send you people who will reciprocate. He will choose them for you, to replace the dysfunctional relatives, selfish spouses, and so on.

The Bible says we should seek to accumulate treasure in heaven. That means people. When you make a good Christian friend on earth, you create a treasure that will be with you forever in heaven. Paying off, eternally.

It’s nice to have people visit, especially when they’re real friends and not superficial business acquaintances. It warms the place up. I know of a few more who will come eventually.

The house seemed somewhat cold and lifeless when I first got here. There were a lot of disturbing, unpleasant problems to contend with, and there were only two of us, banging around in a big empty place. I started to wonder if God had really guided me here. Maybe I had chosen the house myself, in selfishness or recklessness. Things keep happening to suggest that his hand is in this move. I’m very grateful for that.

I better get in the shower. I have to mow tomorrow. And who knows what else I’ll have to do? I really hope Irma doesn’t hit Miami. I can’t even guess how I would deal with that.

God will fix it. He always does.

Make sure you invest in people. People are the only wealth you can take with you.

3 Responses to “Dividends”

  1. lauraw Says:

    Populate the place with good people and positive life forces, and push out any bad vibes that may be hanging around.

    I don’t believe in spirits, but I know that the house my family moved to when I was a kid was full of conflict and sadness before we got there. I felt it.

  2. Heather P Says:

    “she bit me at my old church.”–The demons of the old church and demons of Miami. She’s escaped them now, that’s why she hugs people. So glad that things are going well for you!

  3. baldilocks Says:

    Thinking of you. Looks like God’s timing is perfect, as always.