THE PETER PLAN
Tired of being a landlord, I decided to sell the damn condo. The tenant was gone. I had Moose the super-realtor on board, and I had cleaned the place up as best I could. But problems remained. The screen door from the bedroom onto the tiny deck was jammed and wouldn't slide. The thru-the-wall AC had a control knob missing, its stem protruding uselessly. I couldn't show the place this way. These repairs would cost time, money, back-and-forth driving, and more stress. I whined about all this to my sister who lives nearby.
"Why don't you take Peter over and let him have a look," she said. Peter was her husband, a retired IBM techie. "He can fix anything," she said, "and he just loves being asked for help."
Worth a shot, I thought. So I collected Peter and headed to the condo. He brought along a small bag of tools. He gave the screen door a tug and said, "Yeah, the wheel's off its track."
"Wheel? What wheel?" I said.
"These doors roll on wheels, you know," he said.
"It's called a sliding door. I thought it just slid," I said stupidly.
Ignoring me, he placed a hand on each side of the door frame and lifted. To my surprise, I saw the top of the screen rise half an inch into its groove. The bottom of the door popped loose, and he stepped back holding the whole thing as lightly as a feather. As I watched transfixed, he lay the door across the deck rail and raised the bottom for me to see. Sure enough, at each end of the frame's bottom, a small wheel protruded slightly. He spun one which turned evenly, but the other wouldn't budge.
"It's come unseated," he said.
"Well, I 'spose I'll need a whole new door or have to find a sliding-door-wheel-guy somewhere," says I.
"You could do that, or you could just reseat it," he said, and applying pressure to the thing with his thumb, he elicited a loud, metallic SNAP. The wheel now spun freely on its axle. From his bag he drew a can of 3-in-1 oil and lubricated both wheels. Then he raised the door into its upper frame a half inch again and dropped it easily into its lower groove. Whirr-whirr-whirr, it floated back and forth as on a cloud. Now from his bag he drew a small cellophane bag.
"These appliance knobs are regulation," he said, "two for a dollar at any hardware store. Let's have a look at the AC." He tore open the package and took out one plastic knob. "The stems are a standard size; these knobs will fit almost any appliance sold in America," he said. He slipped the knob on the stem, tightened the back screw, and turned the knob one notch. The AC hummed to life.
Alone that evening, I cursed myself. "Jeez, how much easier would my pathetic life have been had I just learned how the damn wheels and knobs work in our quotidian chaos?" I thought. "Isn't that all we really need... the smarts to get us through one God-awful day at a time?"
And I thought then of another Peter, the head disciple and, no doubt, Jesus' skilled road-manager. I'll bet Peter had that Jerusalem weekend planned down the last detail... routes, permits, venues, lodging, meals, the works. And then wild man Jesus comes in declaiming, denouncing, overturning things and just makes a shambles of what could have been a very nice stopover. So my advice is just follow THE PETER PLAN: GET AS SMART AS YOU CAN, AND THEN OFFER TO HELP. I mean thank you, Jesus, for salvation and redemption and all. I'm not ungrateful. But could you just help me sell this damn condo?!