HARRISBURG, ILLINOIS – 6


Friday, March 16, 2012

My last day.  OB is pulling out tomorrow, and I really don’t want to stick around for their celebration, whatever that might be.  Just not my thing.

Yesterday, I called the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville to find out their hours.  They will be open tomorrow, and so I will get to see their car collection, particularly their Tatra collection.  The owner is apparently a real Tatra fan, and, there is a special Tatra exhibition in progress.  Perfect for me.

A hard day’s work today.  In the morning, I went out with one of the Greenville College groups again to rake up debris from lawns, cut some shrubs, and to make neat piles of building materials, metal, vegetation, hazmat etc. by the curb so DOT trucks can collect it.

A house we worked next to had taken a double hit.  As if the tornado wasn’t enough, the house got soaked in yesterday’s rain and the walls, torn away from the foundation by the tornado, are now sliding off the foundation.  Total loss, times two.

When we were done with the raking, we moved on to a house in another neighborhood which sported the jumbled wreck of an expensive jungle gym in its backyard.  Just so it is understood: this jungle gym was blown over from a neighboring yard before collapsing into a pile of junk.  Our task – disassemble it and put it out on the curb.

I was glad that I had my tool box with me because there was a lot of nuts and bolts to be removed.  I handed out ratchets and sockets and we went to work.  Instead of shlepping the wreckage to the curb piece by piece, I backed the truck into the driveway, we loaded it up, I drove out to the curb and unloaded, then da capo, and it was done.

At this juncture, I must confess to a bit of meanness.

When we arrived at the house, the owner came out, took one look at me and averred that I was such-and-such who worked at the post office, and was she ever glad to see that I was okay.  I explained that I wasn’t such-and-such after all, but the lady insisted that I looked exactly like him.

“So he’s ugly too,” I said, biting my lips to keep from laughing.  I expected her to burst out laughing, but she got flustered and insisted that she hadn’t said that, didn’t intend anything of the sort, no way, no how, uh uh.  But when the Greenville students began to laugh, she finally joined in.

Oy, Kubat humor.  Deadly in any dose…

Done with the errant jungle gym by early afternoon.  We were then sent to the site of what used to be a store with a small machine shop and several rental storage units attached.  All there was left were two concrete slabs cover with an incredible tangle of junk.  All-too typical story: older man, no insurance, no resources, no well-to-do relatives or friends to help him set up again.

We carried and sorted, sorted and carried, shlepped and dragged and made piles.  My back and hip began to talk to me, and the words they were using weren’t pretty.  When I sat down to rest and drink some water, I got to talking with a man who was also working on the site.  He turned out to be the owner’s son, and he couldn’t stop talking about how grateful he was for the help.  He said that, after the tornado, his father had spent a day just standing and looking at the devastation, not knowing where to begin, just about ready to quit and move away.  But when the OB folks showed up and went to work, his spirit revived, and now he is planning to restart his business.  How, I don’t know; but the son assured me that dad was raring to do.

Knowing that I had, in a modest way, contributed to the revival of a defeated man’s spirits made me feel halfway human.  I worked until quitting time at 5:30 PM, then drove to the OB command post and said my good-byes.  Onward to the LCC to shower, pick up my things, say farewell to some of the OB compadres and LCC staff, and off I went, heading south on Highway 28 toward Nashville and the Lane Motor Museum.

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About Michael J. Kubat

I'm a grumpy Czech-born clinical social worker who is vitally interested in the survival in the United States as a viable democracy and a beacon of hope for the rest of the world.
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