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100 Days of Gladness: Day 17

The guy across the street that nobody likes.

photo courtesy of

There's this guy in our neighborhood that nobody likes. He’s never done anything to us, per se. But he never says hi, and our friends who live next door to him tell us about the fights. The wife left him. Then she came back. Then she left him again. Yada yada. It was kinda how they rolled.

Anyway, we steer clear. It’s what you do, when you need to.

Then, a couple of years ago, we had a huge snow storm. I loved the snow. But I was also keenly aware of aching bones and joints, and my advancing age. Still, I thought it would be refreshing to get out and shovel. I dressed in many layers, gloves, a scarf, a hat, and I set out with my shovel, my heart, and my resolve to do the job.

Only to discover that our whole entire walkway, even the driveway, was done. The whole thing! I didn’t know how much I’d been psyching myself up to do this job until I didn’t have to anymore. My whole body flushed with relief.

I found out it was the guy across the street. The one we don’t like.

I baked him some cookies and knocked on his door. And here comes this big lug, an actual sweetheart underneath the gruff exterior. He’s a retired cop. His name is Dino. He was not expecting my visit or the cookies at all.

“I just know you two are alone there, and you could use the help.”

“Well, we are sure grateful for that. It was so kind of you. Can’t believe you did that for us. Thank you.”

“It was nothin’.”

And as I turned to go, he said that sometimes he’s seen me go into the house without turning around to lock the car. He said, “Be careful. This is an okay neighborhood, but it’s not as safe lately around here, and I don’t want anything to happen to you guys.”

I thanked him again, told him I’d be more careful.

Nobody’s perfect. I’m sure he’s tough to live with, maybe an impossible husband. But we tend to throw the baby out with the bathwater, based on no direct information. Or we throw it all away based on only a tiny bit of information. And all of a sudden this complex human being is reduced to being “the guy across the street that ‘nobody’ likes.”

Stop it.

Let the people who come through our lives have some dimension.

Let yourself open to the unfathomable dimension that life shows you every day.

This guy that ‘nobody likes’ — whose name is Dino by the way — cleared our whole walkway, on a day when it would probably have broken our backs to do it ourselves.

So, no matter what else he has or hasn’t done in his life, for this one act of kindness Dino gets Day 17 in my 100 Days of Gladness.


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