Papa George, Tuna

The Broker

My father-in-law George is a sweet and gentle man with a heart as big as the ocean. He never raises his voice. If he’s really really mad, he might say “damn”. That’s the only way you know he’s really mad because he doesn’t raise his voice. And let me add that in the eleven years I’ve known him, I’ve only heard him utter that word one time. Truly, he is a servant of God who looks after widows and orphans in their distress. But don’t mess with him.

A while back George took his car to be washed. When it was done, he got back into his car to find that a roll of quarters was missing from the glove box. George went inside and spoke to the manager and politely asked for his quarters back. George is not a big guy. With a head of thick silver hair and a cane, he’s not an imposing presence. I’m sure when the carwash manager saw George, he figured he would blow him off like a ripe dandelion.

The manager all but said I don’t have your quarters old man and why don’t you scram. But George wouldn’t budge. George said that was fine, that he would just hang around and talk to all the customers until he got his quarters back. In about ten minutes the manager handed him his roll of quarters. George thanked him very much and went on about his business. George brokered a deal for everyone to do the right thing without causing a stink and that’s a quality in him that I really admire.

Across the street from my in-laws house is a park that covers one city block. It is filled with big gnarly twisting ancient oaks which shade the 1950’s space age inspired playground equipment, a basketball court, a picnic area and lots of open space to run and play.

In the middle of the park is a large granite stone that is engraved with the message that the park was donated to the children of Tuna in 1947 in memory of Janis by her mother. I don’t know what happened to Janis or how old she was when she died, but it’s touching to think of all the children that have played in that park under the shade of those trees, whose children now play in that park and even grandchildren, Sean included.

Recently a big cell phone service provider came through Tuna and decided that a good place to erect a cell tower would be smack dab in the middle of the park, leveling most of the ancient oaks, leaving only the margins of the park and thusly rendering it no longer a park for all intents and purposes.

In exchange for obliterating the park, the generous BCS (big corporate schmucks) were willing to compensate Tuna with rent of about $1000 a month. It is my impression that the Tuna powers-that-be were salivating at the thought of all that money pouring into the city coffers and maybe even the idea that they would no longer have to maintain the park. And certainly the dumb people of Tuna would go for that. The notice of their intent and the date of the hearing was surreptitiously buried in the back of the local newspaper. Unfortunately for them, not much gets by George and he was on the case.

George was the only one who showed up at the hearing. When BCS saw the sight of an unassuming elderly man leaning on his cane, they probably figured they had a ripe dandelion in their sights. But like the car wash manager, they would be wrong. George stood up and made his case on behalf of the children of Tuna. And whatever he said, it was enough to convince the board to kill the issue. For the time being or until they figured George had forgotten about it.

Across the street from the park is a building that used to be owned by the Baptist church which moved to a new and larger location several years ago. The property is currently owned by another religious organization whose primary purpose is to house a food bank for the needy. After the meeting, George visited with the pastor of the church/food bank and told him that if he were willing, he could rent his parking lot to BCS for over $1000 a month, income the food bank sorely needs. Within a few days, the deal was inked.

Thanks to George’s brokering skills, BCS will plant their cell tower in an unused parking lot, the food bank will earn some much needed income and the giant oaks will continue to shade the children of Tuna as they play in the park and little Janis will continue to rest in peace – a win-win-win-win deal for all parties.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.Matthew 5:9

UPDATE: Β It is one year later and George reports that the cell tower was finally installed and that the church is now able to provide groceries for 50 families every Monday. This is a congregation of about 50 people feeding 50 families every Monday. I think that is amazing. And I’m so proud of my Papa George and they way he goes about quietly ministering to people behind the scenes.

53 thoughts on “The Broker

  1. I write this post not so much for those of you in the blogosphere, but for Sean, so that someday he might really know and understand what it means to love and serve and how lucky we are to be a part of Papa George’s family.

  2. What a wonderful story.

    While I’m here: It was a post you did a while ago that made me think this, but I never commented. Many great writers have the gift of observing ordinary events and ordinary people, and extracting that which is poignant, absurd, profound or funny, and presenting it very accessibly to others. You have that gift in abundance! Thank you for sharing that gift, and the people in your life with us. Some comedians have a portion of this gift in extracting the funny and absurd (think Jerry Seinfeld!), but you do well on all sides of that sphere.

    Also just have to say that I thought of you the other day when I was in WalMart behind a certain woman in an electric cart… !

    Have a great day.

  3. I wish there were more people like George in our world. They are either fewer and farther between or our nasty world shades their gentle firmness too much. I liked that story!

  4. Beautiful, inspiring story. We definitely need more people like George, people who see injustices & find solutions, people who know what is right & stick to it. I want to raise my children to be a “George” in their part of the world.

  5. AFIL will go on my list of favorite Georges… right behind George Clooney (I just can’t bear to know him out of the top spot)…
    Great story. Thank you for sharing George with us!

  6. I’m thinking the same thing as Fiddledeedee. And we definitely need more George’s in the world…but it starts with ME. Thanks for the fab post!

  7. Aww, that was sweet. I would love to have George in my corner. You are very lucky. Sounds like George does “walk softly and carries a big stick”. Lucky Sean as well. πŸ˜‰

  8. I am SO glad you posted this. What a wonderful legacy George is leaving for Sean. I never knew my grandfather but I have a lot of pride in the legacy he left, to be his granddaughter, and even more proud of the name he left when I meet people who were in on the deals he “brokered” in his community.
    The world needs more Georges.

  9. Geeeeeeez. I just read that out loud to my youngest brother and I couldn’t read the final two paragraphs because I was crying so hard.

  10. What a precious man! I know you said you wrote this story mostly for Sean, but I appreciated it more than you’ll know. Made me all teary. Tuna’s blessed to have a man of quality like George as a citizen.

  11. Slap me, call me stupid and sell me the movie rights! This makes me want to know your father-in-law. I can just see it now- what a great movie.

  12. Had to add my two cents of how great this story is. If you ever see George, you must tell him that we all think he is the best!!!

  13. George sounds wonderful! I wish we all were more like him! The world would be a much better place.

  14. I don’t know whether to cry or cheer. I love your Uncle George. I wish we had had him here when we were fighting the big box store that turned our neighborhood into a big, fat eye-sore. We fought so hard. In our case, we couldn’t fight City Hall.
    Sean will be proud.

  15. I saw a lnk to your blog on another blog and your title caught my attention. I enjoyed this post very much and must come back to read more.

  16. How awesome is George?!!?!! I wish he lived in our town!
    The other night, I had a dream I met you. I asked to meet Sean and when we went looking for him, found a note that said he had tucked himself into Wivian’s suitcase. LOL!

  17. Okay. . .you just never cease to amaze me. I wish I had George’s address so I could send him a huge case of canned peaches. I would do it too.

  18. What I find so incredibly inspiring about this post is that Grandpa George never had to lose his temper, or create a scene or become confrontational. He just went about his business and sorted it. Sean is a lucky young boy. We all can learn from Grandpa George. Can he please start a world trip. I need him here too.

  19. I know. I wish I were like that. My confrontation technique is: calm, voice quiver, snide remark, mild threat, tears, high skreechy voice through tears and snot, stomping off with hands in pocket to avoid rude gesture. Never works.

  20. Wow!! I have chills! That’s an amazing story!! Thank you so much for sharing it!

    Your FIL sounds like a wonderful man!!!

  21. He is such an example…I get mad so easily it’s absurd, because I never get what I want, I make the other people mad, I get frustrated and even more angry, and so it’s usually a lose-lose-lose situation…oh I wish I (and everyone) were more like George.

  22. Well, I am several days behind in my blog reading and just got to this. What a wonderful post– with a happy ending. I was teary through the whole thing. I am so glad it ended well. George is an amazing force. My own father was a kind and gentle man who rarely got angry– and his name was George!

  23. “For evil to triumph, all a good man has to do is nothing”…..George is a GO-GETTER. Great job Uncle George!

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