The other night at around 10pm I was rousted from viewing the The American by a frantic pounding on my front door. This was rather unnerving at that hour of the night, so off I went to investigate. Turns out it was the gas company; a leak had been reported on our block and they were urgently checking all the houses in the area. (Incidentally, despite George Clooney's presence, the movie was less than enjoyable. And, yes, this pic does actually come from the film, it is not a mere gratuitous display of GC's topless form.)
Fortunately, we were not in immediate danger, but the work crews spent the next 48 hours on my street probing the asphalt to find the problem, and then repairing it. Need I remind you that the temperature in this region hovered between 25-35 degrees, and some snow and freezing rain fell during the nights?
What's a Grace to do?
Well, of course, I made friends with the crew. First and foremost, I was grateful for their efforts on behalf of the safety of my home and those of my neighbors. Their toil in uncomfortable circumstance stood between us and disaster as far as I could tell. Since they were slogging it out in the frigid air, it seemed only decent to provide them with a warming drink. I made them some hot chocolate and delivered it to them right around the time that afternoon tea would be served in other environments. They were delighted.
They remained on the job well into the evening. As luck would have it, I had just made a vat of beef noodle soup, owing to the fact that my Grant of a hubby, who has taken to cooking on Sundays, made a rib roast that would have fed a high school football team and I needed to do something with the leftovers. As the dinner hour approached, and there seemed to be no end in sight for the gasmen, I ladeled out 6 mugs of soup, placed them on a tray, and shuttled them up the street for a curbside picnic. Again, the crewmen were delighted.
My husband then forbade me from feeding them any more, lest they begin to delay the repair on behalf of the catering. But my thinking was this--in addition to the sincere and genuine expression of gratitude for people doing a hard and dangerous job in the freezing cold, I am also a pragmatic Grace. If, the universe forbid, the pipe situation were to be come dangerous, who do you think the crew would rescue first, the neighbors who ignored them, complained to them, or fed them warm and delicious things throughout the afternoon? Exactly.
When they finished their soup, one of the chaps returned the mugs. I mentioned something about their attempt to finish the repair before the snow was expected to fall. The chap said, "You know, it doesn't really matter to me. I'm just glad to have a job." Well, Graces, I was truly humbled. And really, really glad that I had done right by these guys.