I really haven’t met many of my neighbors here in Denver. It’s very different from where I grew up, where I knew pretty much all of my neighbors and they all knew me. I suppose that’s partially my fault for not trying very hard, but it also comes with the territory of living in a big city and not having kids.
It’s funny how now that I’m leaving, I’ve met more of my neighbors in the past 2 days than in the prior 2 years. I guess used pots and pans bringing people together…
Yesterday one of the people that stopped by was Hugo, and he came with his wife and daughter, who was maybe 2 years old tops. He wanted a miter saw that I was selling, but ended up buying a couple of ladders and some of the other tools I had for sale as well. He ended up buying quite a few things, so I just told him to take 50% off of whatever price I had written on that item.
His wife was very sweet as well, and their daughter was running around with a big smile on her face the whole time. We chatted for a while and talked about Mexico and what my plans were, and he told me what the name of the wildflowers that were growing in the backyard are called (sique el sol) – because they follow (sique) the sun (el sol).
It was just a nice conversation. They were in no hurry, they were interested in my story, and I was interested in theirs. Sometimes that’s hard to find that around here, especially with strangers. People just want to complete their transaction and move on to the next thing. And so they happily went on their way, feeling like they’d gotten a good deal I’m sure. Which they did.
By the end of the day, I was kinda of grouchy and it became abundantly clear that I was not going to sell all the tools and would need to find another way to get rid of them. There are some great non-profits (Re-store comes to mind) that I could donate all the tools to, but that lacked any personal connection.
Then I thought of Hugo and his family.
Not because I think they were destitute or couldn’t afford things, although I’m sure raising a daughter is taxing on your bank account, but rather because he was a nice guy, he would definitely use the tools, and really because I just wanted to make someone’s day.
So this morning, I emailed him and told him that I probably wasn’t going to end up selling the tools or pots and pans and other things that I had, that I was going to end up giving them away for free on Craigslist anyways, so if he wanted anything, he could come and grab it for free.
The three of them stopped by later that morning, and I encouraged them to take whatever they wanted because I was just going to give it away anyways. I could tell they were a bit hesitant, but I really did need to get rid of everything, so they loaded up.
We talked a lot more and I learned quite a bit more about Hugo. His mom, for example, has been the head cook at El Noa Noa, a restaurant right down the street, for 20 years. He’s from a town in Mexico that I have visited twice – I actually had a bowl that I bought there that I gave to him. They ended up staying for over an hour and talking to me – I thought because his brother was going to stop by and see if there was anything he wanted – but that wasn’t why. They were just friendly and wanted to talk. Trying to figure me out, I guess. (“Why is he being so nice to us?”) And as an added benefit, I was now in a great mood.
Hugo chatted to his wife in Spanish for a bit. I understood a little bit of what they were saying. I think they felt guilty about taking things without paying for them, which I understand. So I took the money from them, even though it was supposed to be free.
After they left, Hugo emailed me one more time with his phone number in case I ever needed anything. Which was really nice.
What he doesn’t know is that tonight I’m going to go eat at El Noa Noa, and all the money they gave me for the ‘free’ stuff I was giving away is going to go right back to her.
And how appropriate it is that just as the sun makes its way from East to West across the sky, in a few days time I too will make that journey, siguiendo el sol..