Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner

Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner
Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Day 53 - Elephant Promises

African Elephants
They say an elephant never forgets. I'm kind of like that too. I drive everyone crazy in a good way (I hope) because I always try to remember what I've borrowed and repay it.  I may not repay it as soon as I should but I've been brought up to know the right thing to do is repay people who were kind enough to let me borrow something in the first place.  I will give somebody a dime a week later and they ask, "What is this for?"  to which I reply that I had borrowed it and I am repaying them back now.  Most people are shocked that I paid them back but more so that I even remembered borrowing it from them in the first place.

This has always bothered me.  Both when people don't remember or do remember and don't pay me back.  Before online loan applications, a handshake and a person's word meant the difference between good character and a character of a person to which we wouldn't loan any money. This was based on past broken promises of repayment.  One time I had fallen on such hard times that I had wrecked my car for the second time in a terrible winter with snow.  I couldn't turn it into the insurance company but a very kind man had fixed my car the first time and agreed to do it again for me.  I wrote him a check and it bounced.  I had no intention of it bouncing but it did.

It took me a year as I was in college at the time to pay him back.  I wrote a letter to him explaining my gratitude.  I think he was shocked that I actually repaid as it had been so long ago.  What surprised me was when I went back into my checkbook I had found two entries for the same amount.  I had felt so bad that I paid him back twice!

Another time a friend of mine who happens to be Japanese made sushi for me to take on an airplane trip (back when you could carry on food) to visit a friend.  On the return flight, I had packed the empty japanese container in my suitcase with care but the airlines still managed to find a way to break it.  I was devastated that such a special container was broken.  It was a three-tier black lacquer container with red lining hand-painted with red and pink cherry blossoms.  A unique container at best.  I came clean and told her what had happened.  She was upset and I knew it.  I looked everywhere for this container.  When eating out at Japanese restaurants I asked if they knew where I could buy such a container.  For fourteen years I looked and while walking in a mall one day I stopped in a random store and found the same container.  I didn't care how much it was, I bought it.  I couldn't wait to get home to give it to her.  Imagine her shock when she opened it and said, "I forgot about this.  It is the exact same container.  Thank you, you shouldn't have."

Oh yes I should I thought, I broke something from her homeland. I felt vindicated, my word still intact.  When someone accuses me of lying I'm very offended as I've worked hard to honor my commitments and always keep my word.  Recently I had met a woman at the local library to buy a textbook from her for my son's college biology class.  During this meeting, I paid her the cash, took the book and we were interrupted by a scam artist who was asking for money to stay at a local hotel (or so he said.)  We both left.  I arrived home to find a voice mail from her husband in which he said his wife called crying and that I had taken her book and not given her the money.

I called him back and assured him that I gave her cash.  I gave it to her first.  As a matter of fact instead of being accused of being a thief, I would bring back the book and he could call me once she found the cash I had given her.  He said he would call me right back. Instead the wife called me back and was crying and raising her voice at me, "You took my book and didn't give me the money." I helped her recall when and how I gave the money to her and how the man had interrupted us.  She said that she thought I was with him and was in on the scam.  I assured her I didn't know this guy and that I had been a basketball referee for ten years and had passed all background checks with flying colors.  She said she had already checked her jean pockets and purse but she would look one-more-time and call me right back.  Five minutes later she called back still hysterically crying and said to me, "I'm so sorry.  I found it in my coat pocket.  I'm so embarrassed."  I told her not to worry about it.  Truth was that now that my word was still in tact, I didn't really care WHAT she accused me of. 

Even though I'm not an elephant I too never forget.  I don't forget who and what I borrowed. But more importantly I never forget what I lent and to whom.  Too bad everyone doesn't remember like an elephant. Maybe they do but think I don't - wrong. And yes some days I feel like I'm under the Big Top cleaning up the peanuts!  These days repayment comes in the form of hard labor. At least my promises are kept I may need help again later.

One can pay back the loan of gold, but one lies forever in debt to those who are kind 
~Malcolm S. Forbes

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