When I heard a loud crash outside my house Wednesday night, I thought a tree had blown over onto my roof.
It’s been stormy here for the last few days, so I feared that the rain and wind had weakened a tree enough to bring it crashing down. I didn’t see any breaks in the roof from the inside, though, so I ran out my front door into the cold rain.
My next-door neighbor came out of his house 30 seconds later, asking me if I knew what it was. It took us a couple of minutes to realize the crash had come from my back yard. We found several sections of a huge branch that had collapsed from a tree.
The falling pieces had avoided my house, but damaged the back-yard fence. The main section was about 25 feet long and there were several smaller sections. I was lucky that it was just some chain-link fence that was damaged instead of my house.
The neighbor told me he could help me fix the fence after work Thursday — although I didn’t figure anything would come of that — and then we both ran back inside to get out of the rain.
When I looked at the damage in the light of Thursday morning, I was dismayed.
The fence was damaged badly enough that the gate was hanging loose and wouldn’t come close to shutting. That section of the fence was a shambles. And there were a lot more broken limbs than I’d seen Wednesday night.
I spent a lot of the day Thursday dreading having to go home and deal with the mess. Even if I left the limbs right where they had fallen, I couldn’t let Lucy outside by herself since the fence wouldn’t close and there were breaks in the fence. So I knew I would be out there tonight in 32-degree weather trying to figure out how to temporarily cover the breaches until I could get a fence company to come repair it.
I was also dreading the cost, because chain-link fence work can be expensive.
I worked a little late Thursday evening showing a house. By the time I finished dinner and drove home, it was after 8 p.m. It had been dark for hours — and I still had some work to do in the cold, wet weather.
As I got out of my car and started toward the house, I realized Pedro had come out of his house to see me.
“I fixed your fence,” he said in a very matter-of-fact way.
I thought he might be kidding, but he was serious. I bolted toward the side of the house to take a look at what had been a broken mess when I had left the house.
The gate hung in perfect shape, latched just as it was supposed to.
“I know you let your dog out when you come home,” he said, “so I thought I should have it fixed before you got here.”
Pedro showed me the repairs he had made. He showed me a couple of places where he had used wire to shore up damaged parts. The fence was actually stronger than before the damage.
Then I realized that all the broken branches were gone. He had used a saw to cut up the pieces, which he had hauled to the street for the city to pick up. There was nothing left for me to do.
I was overcome with gratitude. I asked him how much I owed him, because he had done quite a bit of work.
Pedro didn’t want any money, but I insisted. He relented and admitted that he had had to go buy one $5 part, so he would let me reimburse him for that. But he really didn’t seem to want anything.
Pedro just wanted to help — and he wanted me to have my fence fixed by the time I needed it when I got home.
So when I finally went inside a few minutes later, I was able to open the kitchen door and let Lucy run out into the back yard — as I do every evening — because Pedro had cared enough to help me.
I don’t know where Pedro is from. He speaks English well enough, but it’s heavily accented. He’s from a Central or South American country. Mexico most likely.
I couldn’t care less where he’s from. I’m just happy to have Pedro as my neighbor, because he’s the kind of neighbor everybody ought to have.