This is the story of Wayne the carpenter. An average man, living an average life. Proud of his kids, dedicated to his work, a friendly man who is prepared to like the people he meets.
When the contractor Wayne works for runs into a sticky situation, he sends Wayne the Peacemaker to calm the customer and arrange compromises that leave company and customer satisfied.
This man is good at what he does. I can testify to that because I was quite annoyed with the details of a contract I’d signed with his company to do some work repairing our leaky roof. Not only did it cost more than agreed upon, but the contractor had failed to use the materials that appeared (to me) to be in the agreement we signed. I felt cheated and jerked around, to put it mildly.
So out to the house comes Wayne, a smile on his face, an apology on his lips, and a compromise in his hand. We agreed that his company and I would split the difference, and Wayne explained to me why the materials would not only suffice, but would leave our roof waterproof and safe until such time as we could afford a new one. He also gave us some extra materials, gratis.
Yep, Wayne is indeed an expert at mollification.
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As he was leaving, Wayne noticed our American flag hanging from the porch. He mentioned in passing that he had both an American flag and a state flag (hanging lower — and smaller — of course, he said). He and his dad had erected a tall flagstaff in a bricked-in flower bed. In addition, they had installed a floodlight that illuminated the flags at night. Thus he could leave his flag up instead of having to take it down after dark. However, he said, he was a stickler for the rules and when it rained, the flags always came down. “Sometimes,” he said, “the rules matter.”
Wayne hails from Appomattox. Red House is not far from there, so we asked him if he was familiar with the compound. His smile faded and his face darkened. “I sure do know about those guys. I ran into some of them once. It was Thanksgiving Day, come to think of it, just a few months after 9/11. We went down to Red House to a friend’s house for dinner that afternoon. He had a flag on display, too, and when night began to come on, I offered to help him lower the flag.”
Wayne and his friend went outside to do the job and as they began hauling on the rope, three men passing in the road yelled out to them that they’d better take that “thing” down. Wayne says they yelled some other remarks he wouldn’t repeat.
From the way they were dressed, Wayne knew they were from the Jamaat ul Fuqra compound – only he referred to it as “that place.” He told them to shut up and they sneered at him, saying they were on the road, on public property and could say whatever they wanted. So Wayne walked over to the road, stepped onto the asphalt, and repeated his command: they could either shut up or take the consequences.
In true Scots-American style, Wayne offered to take the three of them on. It was Thanksgiving Day and it seemed to him he had a lot to be thankful for. If they didn’t feel the same way, well… he could take care of that. None of them – nor all three of them as a group – was willing to take him up on his offer. They became silent and backed off. In fact, they turned around and began to walk away quickly.
Wayne returned to his friend’s yard and told him, “Put that flag back up.” His friend reminded him that it was almost dark. Wayne had an idea. Finding out that his friend had a floodlight in his workshop, he asked him if they could temporarily rig it up so that it would shine on the flag – thus allowing the Stars and Stripes to remain flying all night. The friend readily agreed and in no time they had the floodlight in place.
Wayne wanted to explain “where I’m coming from.” He said that immediately after 9/11 he’d asked for leave from his company and had tried to go to Ground Zero to volunteer. However, no matter where he called, they were already full up. His services weren’t needed. It “sorely disappointed me,” he said. “I couldn’t get into the Navy because of my knee and now this. I wanted to serve my country some way or other.”
There are many who would make fun of Wayne, with his patriotism, and his flag, and his rubrics of respect for what it represents. They would jeer at his direct and angry confrontation of the ugly remarks directed at him and his flag.
I am not one of those people. Wayne gives me hope. His direct approach is the very thing that will save us, and if Jamaat ul Fuqra ever hits the road, Wayne and his ilk will be ready. They plan to keep their children safe.
Thank God for Wayne.