I was working for a large international law firm back in the 1990’s. The upper floor of the Firm was occupied by attorneys who specialized in corporate transactions. These attorneys were highly skilled professionals. You could hear a pin drop on the carpet in that area – very posh. High-end clients.
One attorney, in particular, apparently had a long-standing client base. He rarely had clients visit him, he did not appear to socialize much with others and he seemed to be a cranky old man.
My husband, Donald, having sold his business, now worked as a stationary engineer/maintenance man for the building where I worked. This was a great arrangement for us. We could commute together, have lunch together, we knew the same people – you get the picture.
One day, Donald appeared in my office and told me that the cranky attorney had called for maintenance in his office. A ceiling tile had fallen from the ceiling, been repaired by a maintenance man – and had – just then – fallen again – landing on the attorney’s head. Donald had been handed the work ticket. “Don’t go,” I pleaded. “He’s just plain mean on a good day.”
Donald went up to the upper floor, knocked on the attorney’s door and waited for permission to enter. Nothing. He knocked again. Nothing. Thinking that the attorney must be out, Donald opened the door and walked in to see the attorney – talking on the phone. The attorney scowled at him and pointed to the ceiling tile on the floor and then to the hole in the ceiling.
Phone call ended, the attorney said “Someone else tried to fix it and the damned thing just fell out and hit me on the head.”
Donald looked at his head. Sure enough, there was a scratch where the tile had clipped the man. “Well, I’m fixing it and I’m fixing it right. It won’t fall down again,” Donald assured him. The attorney grunted in reply and returned his attention to the papers on his desk.
Some time later, word got around that the attorney had been diagnosed with cancer. Donald said he was going to drop by and let him know he was praying for him. “Don’t go – he’ll just hurt your feelings.” Donald went. He told the attorney that he was praying for him and left the office. He didn’t try to stick around and hold a conversation.
About a year later, Donald suffered a massive stroke while we were on vacation. Although we didn’t know it until much later, this attorney assisted a movement at the Firm to help me get Donald back home – if I needed the help. I got him home and took time off from work while Donald was recovering. I was doing some work from home. One day, Donald went with me to the Firm.
Let me say this right here and now – I am not a very good driver. I do not like parking in parking garages that were probably constructed around the time cars were invented – dark, low ceilings and ramps that make you feel like you are driving through a sausage casing.
Anyway, back at the Firm – Donald and I found ourselves in the elevator and the attorney – who has never, ever said a word to me said he could tell Donald (he called him by name) was doing well but how was I doing. I told him about my concern about driving up the ramps in the parking garage. The attorney smiled – actually smiled and replied “Just keep it in the middle of the road, Sharon.”
I was blessed indeed by the attorney’s advice and I have used it to pull myself together many times since that day.
Today, all these years later, it dawned on me. Donald and I had been part of that attorney’s enlarged territory.
Please give me some comments to let me know you understand where I am coming from regarding the enlarge my territory portion of Jabez’s Prayer.