Saturday, September 18, 2010

After the Storm - Leaks and Acts of Generosity

About a week ago we had some welcome rain, about 8 inches while Tropical Storm Hermine passed by. 

During the night, the rain produced a dripping sound. Somehow the alert part of my brain - the part that protects me while I'm sleeping - cross-referenced the sound and concluded that it was too loud to be the sound of rain hitting the roof. I felt the jolt of adrenalin and bounded out of bed. It seemed to be happening in the fireplace enclosure on the other side of our bedroom wall. 

Then I noticed that the carpet was wet there. Water behind the dry wall and in the carpet means the danger of mold and mildew, which can be grow like a cancer and kill a home.

I knew Kathleen wouldn't want to sleep through all this excitement, so I awakened her. Before long I was in the attic and then on the roof checking for leaks. A good time was not had by all. I never made it back to sleep that night.

The next day we got some for recommendations for roofers, and miraculously one came to our home before noon, a gentleman named Santiago. We went up on the roof and he showed me where the caulking had eroded, causing the leak. His fix seemed logical and on-target. And best of all, he didn't recommend ripping out and replacing all the old flashing around the chimney, which would have been an expensive job.

He redid the caulking, installed a collar to cover the seal, and added a barrier of flashing on the high side of the chimney. He did all this himself in about an hour.

It was such a pleasant, non-exploitative project that when it came time to write the check, I did something I've never done with a contractor. I added a 20% tip. 

Apparently he was surprised by this generosity. Before he left, he said he had some flashing left over, and it would only take a few minutes to install a barrier to keep rain from dripping on our air conditioners. He didn't want payment for this. I think his sense of quality service and fair payment caused him to want to do more work for the extra money I gave him.

As he drove away, I thought about the truth that underlies the idea of karma. Trust people and they they will trust you back. Give kindness and it will be returned to you. Be generous and people will find ways to share what they have with you.

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2010. Building Personal Strength . (Permission to use photo purchased from


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Meredith Bell said...

What a terrific life lesson for all of us, Denny. Trust, kindness, generosity...core elements of a happy, fulfilling life.