Saturday, March 29, 2008

Roadside Rescues

As I drove Emily back to her apartment after a long day of moving, we turned onto 24th Street and were startled to see the street was a dead end into a culdesac rather than connecting 1st and 2nd Avenues (first day driving in the city, remember?) Annoyed to have to turn around and prolong getting back to my apartment for rest and dinner, my eyes widened with excitement when I saw a desk and other furniture piled in the culdesac - waiting to either be rescued from the road by someone like me or waiting to be picked up by the garbage man...whoever got there first.

I schreeched the car to a halt and we both jumped out and ran to survey the pile - no, desk not right; no, cabinet too big; but - looky here! I rested my hands on the top of the wooden chest of drawers - just the right height and depth, and full of potential. Though my eyes definitely saw the flaws, I tried to make my brain ignore them - nothing a little cleaner, strong scrubbing and light hammering couldn't fix! After several assurances from Emily that yes, it could be cute and no, you're not crazy to pick it up from the side of the road, we unloaded the drawers and lifted the chest frame into the trunk. And sat it back on the ground. Wouldn't fit. Let's try the back seat! Uh-uh. At this point I was slightly in love with the chest, so I couldn't just walk away with an "Oh well."

"Where are we?" I ask Emily.
"24th Street between 1st and 2nd," she says. I see her see what I'm thinking.
"And the apartment is on 29th and 2nd. That's only five blocks. I can carry it."
"Are you sure?" she asks.
"Totally. I'll just carry it on my shoulder like this." I hoisted the top of the chest so it hung on my right shoulder, and I steadied the front side with my left hand. "See - easy. You load up the drawers and stay with the car and I'll be right back."

A lesson I should have learned from horror movies is that you never say, "I'll be right back."

I had barely made it to 2nd Avenue when I was feeling a little winded. "It's okay. Power through," I urged myself. I rested on the corner for a second then set out for my next goal - the corner of 25th Street.

"Okay, this is heavier than I thought" I said to myself as I plopped the chest down on the corner of 25th and 2nd. Not to mention enduring the quizzical looks of people passing by and the now really hurting pain of the middle bar of the chest banging into my right hip with every labored step I took.

The quest to get to the next block was not only hindered by my lack of strength to carry the chest, but by its lack of strength to stay together. The little crack along the top left corner that I had chosen to ignore a few minutes ago was now completely split in half, and the back panel was loosening with every step. As I faced the reality that in another block or two I was going to have three separate pieces - and I still had three blocks, around the corner and up two flights of stairs to go - the chances of me or the chest not making it to our destination were increasing with every step.

Just as I was feeling defeated, a man stopped and asked how far I'm going with that. "Oh, just a few more blocks up the street." I was kind of embarrassed to admit how far I had planned to carry it all by myself. Before I could protest or show him how it was completely falling apart, he shoved his book at me to hold and lifted the chest to his shoulder and started up the street. "You really don't have to!" I called out as I ran along beside him, trying to keep the back panel from flapping as it loosened even more. "Let go - I have it!"

As we passed 27th and then 28th, I began to worry that he might expect me to pay him for his assistance. I only had my cell phone and keys with me, and honestly I didn't want to have to pay him anyway - this was supposed to be my free chest after all!

I instructed him to leave it on the corner (didn't want him to know which apartment was mine!), although I'm pretty sure he would have carried it inside and nailed it back together for me.

"Thank you so so much. I couldn't have done this without your help, but I have no way to repay you."
"You don't have to repay me," he said.
"Well, I just feel terrible, you carried it all this way."
As I handed his book back to him, he just looked at me and said, "Just pray."
Startled, I said, "Well - okay!" And then we hugged (yes, hugged!) and he went on his way.

I left the chest in front of the fire station and ran back to Emily waiting in the car. Out of breath and trembling with excitement of my new chest, I told her the story of my roadside rescue as we drove the drawers back to the apartment.

And while I fulfill my little angel's request for prayer, I'll also throw in a few prayers for the poor broken and dirty chest - it, like all of us, needs a lot.

After cleaning every inch of the chest, I hammered a few nails in the side to keep the frame together and a few in the back to stick the board in place. Oh, and that bar you see is what was banging into my hip and left a nasty bruise!

Wa-la!! Isn't it retro cute?! Fits pefectly where I wanted a chest of drawers, and it will look great with the mirror Jane gave me hanging above it.

1 comment:

Jessica H. said...

so excited about your new place.... can't wait to see pics. I've totally done this before...I found a bathroom cabinet next to the dumpster in my apt complex once. One's trash is another's treasure.