Monday, September 24, 2007

On sharing and duct tape

Amanda is my youngest daughter and her car broke down on Friday evening about 50 miles away. As soon as she called to let me know I jumped in my car and went to her. I determined that her vehicle would not make it home and got it to a safe place.

On Saturday I called some friends, Bruce and Cyndy, who are also members of the church I serve and asked if I could borrow their pickup and trailer to get Amanda's car to a mechanic. They readily agreed. My wife, Terri, and I went to pick up the towing rig. Bruce helped us get the trailer hooked to the pickup and soon we were on our way.

When the trip was complete we returned the truck and trailer, but Bruce and Cyndy were not home. Terri called Cyndy on her cell phone and thanked her and let her know that we had returned the rig. Cyndy relayed a question to me--she wanted to know if I had used any duct tape. The next day at church Bruce caught me in the hallway and asked with a smirk if I had the right color duct tape for the car moving operation.

Why all the questions about duct tape? I was afraid you'd ask that.

In March of 2006 I borrowed Bruce and Cyndy's truck and trailer to move another car, except this one was new . . . to me. I drove to a government surplus vehicle auction planning to be successful by taking the tow rig. I got a good deal on a Ford Taurus that I still drive. Excited about my purchase I planned carefully to get it on the trailer, lining up the ramps just right and checking the clearance everywhere . . . I thought. After driving the car onto the trailer I breathed a sigh of relief. It wasn't until I went to secure the car to the trailer with chains that I saw it.

In the loading operation I had damaged a piece of fiberglass or some such polymer compound under the front bumper. I wondered how in the world I had done it. After a little investigation I figured out that a corner of a small square of metal at the rear of the trailer was in just the right spot to rip the fiberglass.

I was sick. I had driven my new car maybe 50 feet and I had already messed it up. It was a big time bummer. Making a bad situation worse was the fact that the sagging fiberglass nearly touched the ground. It would have to be secured in some way until I could get it repaired at a body shop. What could I use to hold up the broken piece until a permanent fix was in place?

You guessed it: duct tape. The only bit of good news was that my new Taurus was gray--the color of standard issue duct tape. So my temporary solution, while painfully obvious to me, was not immediately obvious to others.

I got the car home and unloaded without any further damage. I returned the truck and trailer to Bruce and Cyndy without saying a word about what I did to my car. In fact, they would not have ever known about it . . . if it weren't for my wife, Terri.

Our youth were putting on a dinner theater at church several months after my car purchase. Cyndy directed the play. One night Terri, who is also the youth minister, was at a rehearsal sitting with Cyndy. The characters included a really funny church janitor who liked to repair everything with, of course, duct tape. Terri managed to keep it together until a scene in which the janitor proudly showed off the way he had repaired even his car with duct tape.

My wife's belly laughs were disproportional to the humor value at this point and Cyndy asked what was going on. So Terri told her about the way I had repaired my brand new Taurus with the sticky gray stuff. Cyndy then laughed even harder than Terri.

It is really nice of Bruce and Cyndy to loan me their truck and trailer on occasion. They always let me use it without hesitation. The practice reminds me a little of some expressions in the early chapters of Acts about folks in the early church having "everything in common" and not claiming "any of their possessions was their own," but sharing "everything they had" (Acts 2:44; 4:32). I have benefitted from Bruce and Cyndy's faithfulness to that New Testament pattern and I appreciate their help greatly . . .

But I don't remember those verses saying anything about rubbing it in about duct tape repairs.

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