Installing new stained glass windows into a church goes fairly quickly, provided that you had done your homework well. I almost never did my homework well in school, but I did it exceedingly well in this domain. The better my performance, the more I got done, the quicker I got done, and most importantly, the prouder and more satisfied I was. Nothing subjective about it, the tangible results are right in there in front of you.
The elderly lady in the large, new, assisted living community could not have been sweeter. Had a casting director presented her for the Hollywood role of “sweet old lady”, the director would’ve likely have said, “too much!”
Now I’m not complaining for two reasons. First, she was a joy to work with. And second, she was footing the entire bill for the project. This was no small feat as this was a pretty large, multi-paneled stained glass window for a retirement community chapel.
I didn’t screw up often (in this task). In fact I liked to take great pride in the notion of, “never fear, whatever it is, David is here.” I would like to mention, between all this rooster crowing and chest thumping, my job was not rocket science.
Since this project was only a few miles from the shop and thus had no travel costs, there was no need for my solo act. A small group of us arrived and started building scaffolding and hauling in window sections in the mostly empty chape. It would’ve been completely empty had there not been a rather diminutive benefactor, excitedly sitting in the front pew, and all ‘dolled-up’ in a wonderful looking outfit. It was a cute scene as we started handing up the first section and started to… Umm… “it doesn’t fit!” though this was muttered very quietly, knowing we have an audience. None of them did! I screwed up the math. Even worse, the subject was not ‘Differential Equations’, it was, ‘Subtraction, Additions Tricky Friend.’ House on fire was in my head, but I must play it cool. All of them were too big to fit into the opening… Everything is good… Fine…
Of course it wasn’t by much, and we could cut them down, but it was going to take some time and require us to hall everything back to the shop.
Of course the reversal of all the steps she had been eagerly watching was starting to cause a look of confusion on the face of the benefactor. I couldn’t put it off. I had to talk to her.
I didn’t want to convey the severity of the problem, or cause concern that the beloved windows were going to be altered significantly, so I explained that we needed to take it all back to our workshop, in the most matter-of-fact way, to fix it all there, and bring it back here. As I was doing so, the benefactor was every so often, saying in a high pitched, kind voice “oh”, “oh”.
The image hit me all at once. I was the Grinch, stuffing the tree up the chimney, and she was Cindy Lou Who, that’s who. The similarity was disquietingly spot on. My poor brain has not the capacity to let humorous images float by without them bumping into some group of childish neurons and sending them aflutter, but this situation deserved respect. She, deserved respect. Keeping a straight face, while the song, “You’re a mean one”, played in my head was like trying not to sneeze while someone blows fine pepper in your face.
We worked hard back at Santa’s workshop. My heart grew two sizes that day and I found the strength of Ten Grinches, plus two! We came back and helped her fulfill her mission, only delayed, one week.
Whoops! Glad it didn’t take an entire re-do of the window pieces to fix, and I’m sure the lady never thought of you as a Grinch.
Your job has always been fascinating to me.
What an “Oh sh*t moment.” I can’t imagine how one would cut stained glass windows down to size. That’s why y’all are the experts. I’m glad the sweet little old lady didn’t go Karen on you
I loved this David, thank you!