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Getting Shorty
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Kozelsky

Sunday, January 19, 2014

By HOLLY KOZELSKY - Bulletin Accent Editor

It took me 15 years in the rental business to learn how to get things done.

“You don’t know how to get Shorty?” asked my friend, Ninette, in astonishment. Like me, she lives here but has a rental house in our previous town two hours away. “Everyone knows Shorty.”

You really do feel left out if you’re the only one in a town of 4,000 who doesn’t know someone or something.

“Come on,” she said, when we were in Siler City, N.C. “Let’s go get Shorty. I need him to fix my roof.”

She added, “He’s funny, but he’s a good worker.”

Shorty has no phone, no car and no teeth. He lives simply.

We drove down to his singlewide trailer in Happy Hollow. He wasn’t there. A neighbor said he was painting the church. The folks there told us to look for him in the grocery store. No luck there, either.

When you’re in Siler City, you’re on Siler City time.

We went back to his trailer the next day. He said he’d have time to come with us to see the roof.

Shorty was a trim man who came up to my forehead. He wore a clean gray sweatshirt tucked into crisply pressed blue jeans. His hair was a shocking white, and his eyes twinkled out from a face deeply creased with wrinkles.

We drove him to the house. He hopped around sprightly, then came back and said, “Yeah, I’ll fix it for ya.” Ninette just had to bring over the materials; he would walk to work.

It was fixed within a few days, cheap. I was impressed. When I try to arrange workers, it takes phone call after phone call just to get a “yes.” They tell me they’ll be there a certain day, then three weeks later my renter says no one ever showed up.

I’ve even had some send me the bill, only to find out later that the fellow “didn’t actually finish” the work yet but was “fixing to and figured it would be done” by the time I mailed the payment.

The next weekend we were in Siler City, Ninette and I spent the day raking and cleaning while Shorty, thank goodness we found him, did repairs.

By the end of the day, we were tired and hungry. In Siler City, we have ladies who sell supper out of their houses. We went to Doña Margot’s house to ask her to make us some pupusas, then made a special trip to Señora Reina’s daughter-in-law’s house to order some soup for Shorty. That would be easier for him to eat since he doesn’t have any teeth.

We hauled Shorty around with us on some errands while the ladies cooked our food. It was like being out with a celebrity.

Everyone in the grocery store patted him on the back and said, “Hey, Shorty!” Men stopped in the aisles to catch up with him. The clerk at the hardware store gave him a free pack of nabs. Doña Margot’s neighbors hollered down the street to greet him.

Truly I was the only one around who did not know Shorty before then.

Modern life has its methods, but sometimes the old ways get things done faster.

And that’s how a ride in the car gets better results than a phone call, and websites aren’t even on the radar.

 

 
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