I saw him immediately.
He would have been hard to miss.
"DON'T LOOK INTO THE LIGHT," my mother always screamed whenever we were anywhere near someone welding. She had us convinced that our retinas would burn away instantaneously. But there he was, on the staircase welding something. I didn't look into the light, my mother would have been pleased, but I certainly looked at the source of the light - a welding torch.
We were in the lobby of the Marriott Gateway in Niagara Falls where we were going to spend the weekend at a staff retreat. My manual wheelchair was in the MV-1 and I was motoring in my power chair. The day before Joe had noticed that there was a small fracture in the frame of my manual chair. It looked like the kind of thing that was going to simply get worse over time. I went immediately into panic - this is my primary way of getting around after all.
In the lobby, looking at the welder, a plan formed in my head.
Welder + Something that needed welding = Opportunity Knocking
I asked Joe, who thought the question odd, "Do you think he looks nice?"
After a brief discussion we agreed we had no idea what 'nice' looks like. I was about to approach him when a manager looking fellow came down the stairs passing the welder on his way. I dove in. I explained to the manager that I was going to ask for a bizarre favour. It took me a couple minutes to explain about my chair in the car and the little weld that it needed. I asked if it would be OK to ask the welder. I assured the manager-type-guy that it was totally fine if the answer was "no" - it was just the opportunity and, need I say, THE EQUATION.
The manager said, "I'll ask him for you."
The manager came down, the welder following. He asked me questions that I didn't know the answers to - Was the chair made of stainless steel? I wondered to myself, 'Can people answer questions like that - who knows those kind of things?' I said, 'I don't know.' He said he'd take a look at it and if he could he would.
My chair is all welded up.
Right there in the lobby of the hotel, my wheelchair went under the torch. I wonder what people thought when they came in, seeing a welder, in a hotel, on a staircase, welding a wheelchair? I wonder if they knew what they were seeing?
The manager saw me later in the afternoon and asked if it all went well. He actually seemed to care about my answer, I assured him that all was now good.
Constantly surprise me.
The welder didn't know it, but not only did he fix the fracture in my chair, he also welded together the fracture that occurs from time to my time in my faith in humanity.