Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Ask and You Shall Receive

Miracles in Miami
Ask and You Shall Receive

         Once settled in my unfurnished apartment, I had to face a few issues.  First, I needed some furniture. How would I furnish my one bedroom apartment with limited funds?

            A colleague who lived in the same apartment building informed me that the building manager had all kinds of furniture he inherited from his father who recently died.  He stored them in one of the vacant apartments so he would be happy to dispose them as quickly as possible. 

            The manager brought and installed a bed, a dresser with mirror, a dining table with four chairs and two living room chairs.  All he asked from me was $60.  You can’t beat that.  The furniture was of high quality and in good repair. 

            Another colleague lent me a notebook sized TV.  That sufficed for watching the evening news but I needed a bigger picture to watch the Chicago Bears game at noon on  Sundays.   My brother lived 45 minutes away so I visited him every Sunday so we could watch the game together.  We cheered our team as the crowd sang “Bear down, Chicago Bears.”  My brother’s wife did not care for any football so  I made up for her lack of interest with my enthusiasm as a dyed-in-the-wool Chicago Bears  fan. After a few months, I bought a second hand TV from a neighbor moving out of the building.

            The building custodian  introduced me to thrift shops in the neighborhood where I picked up table lamps and decorative items.  I also bought a guitar from him for my son when he comes to visit me.  I was all set and I didn’t break the bank.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Helped by an Angel

            It was about 9:00 in the morning of a work day.  I was driving to work taking the route around the neighborhood when my car stopped right at the intersection.  I could not get it to start again.  With no cell phone at that time, I decided to walk back to my apartment leaving the car blocking the intersection.  It was quite a walk on a hot day to my apartment eight  blocks away.

            I made a phone call to  AAA  (American Automobile Association) roadside service and was told that the service car will be at the site in 45 minutes. 

            I walked back to my car.  I could not find it at the intersection.  Where could it be?  I  feared that someone may have stolen it.  I stood at the intersection and looked around for somebody to talk to. 

            In five minutes,  two men, a father and his son, approached me.  They told me that they pushed my car out of the intersection since it was blocking traffic.  They pushed it into their driveway.  They further explained that my car battery was dead and I needed to replace it.  Meanwhile, they happened to have a spare battery and they took the liberty to take my old battery out and placed their good battery in.  They placed  the old battery on a plastic bag to protect the rug on the floor.  They then instructed me to drive to K-Mart to get a new battery installed, get rid of my old one and place their battery on the plastic bag so I can return it to them. 

            I did as instructed.   I was thankful that a total stranger took meticulous care to temporarily replace my dead battery with one that works so I can drive to K-Mart to get a new one installed.  How else could I have driven to K-Mart with a dead battery?  My car was not stolen after all.  I was helped by an angel who delivered another miracle.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Miracles in Miami
3) I Burnt  the Lawn

            After clearing everything used for cooking rice, I noticed a burnt patch of lawn about one square foot.  It was bare, I could see the ground.  Oh, no, what shall I do?  Of course, what do you expect when you build fire right on the grass?  I have to fix this before the landlord comes back. 

            Not knowing what to do, I drove my car to the university just to see what was going on. 

            The crew from the Building and Grounds Department was working on the grounds.  I wasn’t expecting anybody to be working.  I saw squares of sod piled on top of each other  ready for planting.       From my estimation,  one square  was  the right size to cover the burnt area.  I asked the worker if I could have one small patch of grass.  He said, “yes.”  I thanked him and drove home with one square  patch of grass.

            Wow!  That patch of grass was the exact size of the burnt area, as though it was custom cut.  I placed  the new grass on top of the bare soil.   I could not even distinguish  the original lawn  from the patch.  The patch blended in perfectly with the lawn as though nothing disastrous really happened.  

            I thanked my lucky stars for delivering me a miracle!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Miracles in Miami
2) Feed the Children

            Hurricane Andrew had visited Miami and South Florida in August, 1992.  It toppled down trees and knocked out power lines.  There was no electricity in the house and in the entire neighborhood.  Elementary schools, high schools and university classes were cancelled for two weeks.   My landlord and his family had left the house and taken refuge somewhere else.

            It was a good opportunity to cook rice the old fashioned way with firewood.  I gathered twigs and branches felled by the hurricane.  Within minutes, about thirty children came out from everywhere to join me.  They picked twigs and piled them on top of my pile.

            From my kitchen, I picked out the cooking pan, a box of matches, a small bag of rice and a bottle of water saved before the hurricane.  I found three rocks to create a tripod for my pan to sit on.  I could only build fire  on  the lawn.  To do so on the concrete would be dangerous.  It could explode with the heat and cause bodily harm.

            I built the fire, cooked the rice with water and squatted nearby to watch the  fire.  The children  quietly watched  the process as well.  As scripted, the water boiled, I reduced the number of burning twigs and allowed the water to simmer and cook the rice until it was soft and fluffy. 

            The moment I declared the rice was cooked, all the children ran away.  I thought, they were done watching and were not interested in watching any other activity. Okay, I will eat rice by myself in peace. 

            I went inside my apartment to fetch a bowl and a spoon for myself.  When I came back thirty children had all come back, each with his own bowl and spoon.

            At this moment, I had to perform the miracle of feeding five thousand out of five loaves of bread and two fishes.  I had enough practice doing this from my grandmother, Mama Iyay, who was a master at this art.  They were so happy eating the little that I spooned into each bowl.  Once finished with their hearty meal, they ran back home taking with them their bowls and spoons.

            Children are the greatest.

Miracles in Miami
1)  My Silver Toyota Corolla

            I arrived in Miami, Florida to start working in my new job.   I had no car so I  rented an apartment close to the university.  All I had to do was to walk to my place of work.  I was wrong.  The job required visits to schools to supervise teachers learning how to teach using the Montessori method.  I wrongly assumed that the university would provide me a car to make those school visits.

            Left with no choice, I started calling car dealers from A to Z in alphabetical order for their best offer.  I was made aware by the dealers that I had no credit and had no money.  I got to “T” for Toyota.  I spared the dealer from asking me questions by volunteering the information I gained from talking to the other dealers.

            “I have no credit and have no money but I need a car in my job.  I have a good university job and I need a car to do my job.  Furthermore, since I have no car, I need someone to pick me up to see you to pick a car.” 

            I figured out that he can pick me up and if he does not sell me a car, he will have to drive me home.  If he sells me a car I drive myself home.  What do I have to lose?

            “What’s your address?” he asked.

            I gave him my address.  In 15 minutes, the dealer was right at my door.

            It took six hours for the office staff to make phone calls, confer among themselves but at the end of the day, they gave me a car – a 1991 silver Toyota Corolla.  It had 6000 miles since it had been used as a demo car. 

            I drove myself home!  That’s a miracle.  I kept the car for 12 years.