A man of many talents
September 10, 2016
"Shaun can build, fix or install anything," Marta says.
We're in her car on our way to Bridgeport. Mile after mile, she rhapsodizes about Shaun.
"He installed windows, put in electricity, and did my floors. He practically rebuilt my house, and I'm thrilled with it! He works by the hour, and is super honest," she says.
I jot down his telephone number.
As fate would have it, two days later, I bust the handle off our fancy Dishmaster faucet. Doing dishes without our Dishmaster would be a serious downgrade. Where's that phone number? Good. I find it taped to the wall beside my desk.
I call Shaun.
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"Shaun, we haven't met, but Marta tells me you can repair anything. Do you think you'll be in Smith Valley anytime soon?" I plead.
Repair companies can be insidiously unscrupulous about coming all the way out to Smith Valley.
"Sure, I'll stop by tomorrow, after I finish installing a fence on Upper Colony," he says.
I have no idea what he charges, but when you're stuck, you're stuck. I order a new faucet from the distributor.
Over the course of a week, Shaun comes to our house four times. When I finally ask how much I owe, he says, "Let's see, four trips to your house, and $11 for the temporary faucet I got from Ace, that's $60 in all," he says.
I gasp. "Shaun, truthfully, I was expecting to pay at least a hundred dollars," I say. "I like to stay busy, and I don't have a big overhead," he replies.
In the weeks that follow, Shaun fixes a gimpy sewing lamp, a broken drapery contraption, and drills through concrete to fix a mangled sprinkler. Wonder if he could have done my two new titanium hips a while back?
Shaun is a big, burly, guy. He chooses his words carefully and appears to have the world by the tail. When we have a chance to sit and talk, I find otherwise.
"A few years ago, the economy took a dive. I was in construction, and there was no work. Also, Stephanie, my wife, and I had lots of credit card debt. We lost our home and had to live in a fifth wheel for six months. That's why we don't have any credit cards now," Shaun says.
"How long have you and Stephanie been married? Do you have any kids?" I ask.
"We'll be married 15 years, next Thursday. The first two years we were married, we tried to not have kids. Then for 10 years we tried to," he says.
"How much does it cost to have a baby these days? I ask.
"Ten thousand dollars. When we found out a baby was coming, I had to sell our car. We found a midwife and started prenatal training right away. Joshua was born at home and everything was great. We'd do it again," he says.
"When we were in Florida, and decided to come back west, we left with two trucks, two trailers and a car. In Mississippi, one of the trailers died. It was on Sunday, and the parts houses were closed. We couldn't wait, so we left the trailer at the Goodwill. When we got to Yerington, we didn't have enough money to finish our trip to Oregon. God had other plans for us. I helped my dad build a new house, and we took his old one," he says with a big happy smile.
During our talks, Shaun has said several times, "God had other plans for us."
He also told me, "I read my Bible and do what it says."
When Shaun mentions God, he always seems happy, never pious. I can't help but compare Shaun to the men Jesus chose as his disciples. They were workmen. Shaun is a workman. How lucky I was to be riding with Marta and hear about Shaun. As the hymn says, "God moves in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform."
Ron Walker lives in Smith Valley. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.