Saturday, June 13, 2009


You have met the bad, now I want you to meet the good. This day was easier to recognize as a good day. I was collecting at a dairy near Okeechobee. Now I was no longer the regular collector but I did grudgingly fill in for sick days and vacations.

The dairies provided the workers with homes to supplement low wages. There were usually about 10 to 20 homes on the row and out of that, at least 25% would be ready for disconnect. It was lunch time when I arrived at the dairy.

I usually walked the row of house as they were close together. The first house where I found someone home, the lady begged me to not turn her off. She was seriously past due but I asked if she could give me any money at all today and bring the rest in on Thursday which I knew was their payday.

She said,"Can you give me a minute. Gary the foreman is home for lunch and maybe he will give me a loan."

I agreed and waited till she walked up to one of the houses. I enjoyed the wait watching the cows peacefully grazing. Soon she came back with the money.

The next house I went to, I got the same story and made the same deal. Pretty soon the second lady came back with enough money from Gary to keep the lights on. I was really surprised when the third house gave me the same speech and somehow also got the money from Gary.

No, it is not what you are thinking. Shame on you.

There were a few people not at home so unfortunately, they lost their lights. I had only one order left and I started back up the row. As I walked up the last house, a man opened the door and walked towards me with a sad smile. He reached into his pants and pulled his empty pockets inside out. He shrugged his shoulders and held his palms face up.

I started to laugh. "Please tell me you are not Gary."

He nodded and again gave me the sad smile.

I hadn't paid attention to which house the women had gone to. Looking at the name on the last order, sure enough the first name was " Gary." He had given all his money to keep those three other people's lights on, knowing he was about to be put in the dark himself. Trust me, I know collectors who would have cut him off with no problem. One of the main reasons I wanted out of that job originally was because it would eventually made you hard to the human condition. I am a softy and wanted to stay that way.

I was very impressed with Gary that day. Am almost positive I would not have done the same thing. I don't know if he was just a guy who couldn't say no to someone in distress, was just trying to keep his workers happy or if he had a very selfish reason. What I did know was that I believed it was the first reason and there was no way I was cutting this man's power off.

I just said, "See ya Thursday." and left him to finish his lunch, lights still on. What a neat, unselfish man. Just to have met him made it a very good day.

Foot note. Everyone showed up on Thursday and paid their bills.


  1. What a great story, Patti!! Too bad we don't hear stuff like that on the news.

  2. Your collector experiences may inspire me to write about my difficult days as a pharmacist. It was very hard to have anyone, but especially the vunerable aged, stand before me crying because they could not afford their medicine and their doctor would not cooperate with an alternative; many times there were alternatives.

    I am an advocate for reigning in pharmaceutical companies' prices which are inflated, and not just the expense of research. I vehementally object to pharmaceutical advertising on TV. You can write it in stone-- that expense is figured in the end cost of a drug.

    Sorry for pontificating :~(

  3. Good girl, Patti... I would have done the same thing. I guess if the truth were told, I wouldn't be able to do a job like that. BUT--working in a church makes you 'hard' also. I saw way too many beggars coming back for more. They didn't want to work at all. They just wanted handouts constantly. I had no trouble being hard with them.

    Send me your email if you don't mind. My email is There are times i want to reply to your comments on my blog, like today!!!! ha ha ha


  4. A very good story, patti, with a fine ending.

  5. kenju
    Don't you think if media would put an all good news channel on that people would listen? I know I would.

    I hope you do that post for there are tons of people who are put in the poor house via pharmaceurticals. I remember in banking, old people would come in to draw down their savings. They always said that they thought they had planned their lives perfectly, they just didn't count on illness and medicines. Please do the story.

    I know we had abusers who worked the system also, I am just one of those that always believes the best in people till proven wrong.
    Will email you after this.

    About time I put in a post with a good ending don't ya think? Will try to do more of that in the future.

  6. We need more Garies. A good neighbor, let alone one that good, is hard to find these days.

  7. Saw you at Besty's blog and wanted to say HI. I grew up in Mama is still there in Hot Springs...she will be 72 this week.

  8. I don't think I could have done this job at all....It would pin me too much to "turn off" their lights! Gary sounded like a very caring generous man, and I love that you left his lights on!

  9. Robert
    Totally agree. He kind of sets the bar high for us all.

    Sit a spell,
    Welcome to TNS. So glad you stopped by. Your mom is only 2 years older than me. Happy Birthday to her.
    I haven't been to Hot Springs yet but it is on my bucket list for the proximity to Garvin Gardens and the diamond mines.

    Me too. I only worked that job for three months. What it made me realize was that there wasn't enough hard core in me to do it.

  10. Glad you wrapped up your collector stories with one that is so sweet and touching! God Bless Gary, and you, too, for leaving his lights on! You were both "lighting a candle in the darkness" that day.