Tuesday, January 5, 2016

What You Gotta Do

"I pawned it," he said, matter-of-factly. "You catch me at an embarrassing moment." He looked away and shrugged.

"I want that saw," I said.

I had just spent a hundred some dollars repairing the chain saw that I used for fire wood up in New Mexico. Before I had taken it to the shop, I had spent hours dismantling the fuel line, carburetor, and gas tank. The saw had become an intimate, a companion of long hard hours trimming trees and stacking stove-length wood.

But more than that, I needed that tool. When I went out back, weeks before this conversation, where I stored it, it was gone.

When I asked about it, he told me he was using it to "cut up a stump to make a table."

That was alright with me. I had previously loaned him a mitre saw, a table saw, a sabre saw, a paint sprayer, and I had bought him a cordless hammer drill and impact driver. All of them were in hock.

He needed tools to get on his feet after 25 years in prison. I wanted to help. The list goes on. I helped find him a place to live, recommended him for jobs, loaned him money to repair his van.

He was family and a friend.

But this was too much. I couldn't live with him stealing from me.

The pilfering from my change jar was bad enough, but putting my tools into hock with no plan of recovery pushed me over the edge.

"I need you to be gone when I get home," I told him when I dropped him off at my house, the place he was staying.

Yes, he is broke, homeless, not well, and addicted to his own misery.

He is the broken part of me and reflects that back to me in his complaints about how hard life is.

Life is hard. No argument there. Money is hard to come by.

But you don't steal from friends.

Even I, the conflict-aversive softie, can see that and have to draw the line.

I hoped he wouldn't take anything else as I pointed the car toward the city. Rain gathered around the mountains, darkened the sky, and began to fall as the car accelerated.

I need to look ahead, get my work done, try to live with all that is lost, all that is broken.  

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