What would you do?

  • Published
  • By Col. Rick Givens
  • 452 AMW Chaplain Corps

Recently I shared at a couple of commander’s calls about an experience that I had.  It was one of the “I can’t believe this happened” moments followed by some interesting occurrences that caused me to pause and ask “what would you do in this situation?”

My wife and I purchased an older home last year and then started some major renovation projects.  On one of our first weeks of working on the 1970’s kitchen we hauled out the double decker, yellow range/oven, along with a few other bulky items and placed them at the curb for trash pick-up.  Along came our “scrapper” who drives by with his truck and will haul away any metal, large items, etc.  He gave me his business card to keep for the future – Felipe’s scrap and hauling.  I put his card away and pretty much forgot about it.

Fast forward to about a month ago.  It was 0615 on a Thursday, trash day in our neighborhood.  I had a few chores that I was going to do that morning around the yard so was getting set up.  I took a flat nose shovel and pick ax out front to begin digging out some sod in the front median.  I went back to the back yard to get the green waste trash can.  I must have gotten distracted for a few minutes with some other chores and when I came back out front, green waste in tow, my pick ax and flat nose shovel were nowhere to be found.  I looked all around for the tools.  I even went back in the back yard thinking I may have left them there – but to my shock someone had actually stolen my tools from my front yard.  Who steals your tools at 0615?  Who steals the chaplain’s tools?  I was ticked off and threw my gloves down on the ground.  Frustrated I tried to dig some of the sod out with a hoe and grew impatient pretty quickly.

I told my wife about my little episode and she consoled my frustration.  I knew they were just tools; just stuff that could be replaced, but I was frustrated.  But I went and got ready for work and headed out the door.  Driving to work it dawned on me – wait a minute.  It’s Thursday, and it’s trash day.  Maybe the scrapper had come by and stolen my tools?  Or taken my tools?  I knew I had gotten his business card but wasn’t sure where it was.  When I got home that evening from work I dug through stuff and found his card.   Now I was ready to call and light him up! 

I picked up the phone and called Felipe’s number.  A voice on the other end answered – someone actually answered.  “Is this Felipe?” I asked.  “No, this is his son, Randy.”  I went on to inquire about whether this was the scrapper and if they had been in our neighborhood that morning.  And even more specifically on my street and did they pick up my pick axe and shovel?  To my amazement Randy said, “yes, we did pick those up.”  I told him I was doing chores and those weren’t scrap.  I asked if he could bring them back and he said, “yes we can,” and “I’m sorry!”  I was amazed at his honesty and his apology.  He said they would bring the tools back the next morning. 

I immediately told my wife.  She went on to share Felipe’s company info on our local neighborhood site where neighbors share names of painters and plumbers.  Someone had asked if there was a scrapper they could recommend, to which my wife gave Felipe’s info.  I then sent a text to Felipe’s son thanking him for bringing the tools back (hopefully) and that my wife had shared their contact info with some neighbors.  The reply back was, “thanks so much for sharing our info – we already have 2 referrals for work in your neighborhood.  Thank you and God Bless you.”

Now the end of the story is that yes, they did return my pick axe and shovel the next morning which was so cool.  But what I was most impressed by was the honesty and integrity that Randy displayed and acted on.  He could have denied taking the tools.  He could have refused to return them.  But instead he apologized and went out of his way to return them to our home. 

I was impressed by these simple, kind actions.  I hope that the next time I am ready to light someone up, or accuse someone at work, or……….that I will pause and think back to the lesson I learned from my scrapper.  Admitting that I am wrong and apologizing.  And then go the extra mile to make things right.  The Bible tells us that we are “to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with God.”  That’s how this young man responded.  I hope that I can do the same.  What would you do?