My neighbor is a woodworker. What started as a hobby has turned into a business and for the crafters/garbage pickers/yard salers around here he is a dream come true. Whatever you haul down to him he can fix, replicate or repair.
He now has a store and a partner, making, selling and repairing musical instruments. Since it opened I don't like to bother him with my lame craft projects like I used to. He's a legit business owner. Sometimes I'm just bored.
A few years ago I bought a print from the thrift store just for the frame and recently decided to turn it into a chalkboard. Before I would have run down to Mark's house with baked goods and a sad face and he would have picked up on my not so subtle hint that I needed some wood cut for it. This time, though, I decided to leave him out of my project and headed to Lowe's with my measurements.
I got the piece of wood I needed and took it to the saw to be cut. I gave the employee the dimensions, he lined up my wood and then nicked his finger on the saw blade before he even started.
"Are you okay?" I asked.
It bled profusely and he apologized and said, "I'm on Coumadin. Do you know what that is? It's a blood thinner. Makes me bleed a lot."
"Aren't you kind of young to be on Coumadin?" I asked.
And that question opened the door to his story. He pulled down the neck of his tshirt to show me the scar on his chest.
"I grew up in a little town in central Illinois that nobody has ever heard of. I went to college in Bloomington and got a chance to play on the football team. I loved it but I was kind of small. After a year or so of being there I found out that some scouts were coming to the area to look for prospects for the NFL and I decided I was going to bulk up so I'd have a better chance. The NFL. I could already see me there. I started taking steroids. Don't say it. I know what you're thinking. Anyhow, I bulked up pretty quick once I started doing that and it was great. Lost a little speed but made up for it in tackles. I didn't even look like the same person with all those steroids. Completely changed my body. I kept taking more and more but it eventually caught up with me and I got sick. Really, really sick all of a sudden. My parents came to town to check on me because I wasn't answering my phone. Sometimes I would hear it ring and want to answer it but I couldn't get up. I couldn't even lift my head up off the pillow. I don't remember much once my parents got there but I do remember my mom crying. They took me to the local hospital and they said I needed a specialist so they loaded me in an ambulance and drove me to this hospital in Champaign, Illinois.
"Was it Carle Clinic?" I asked.
"Yeah. How would you even know that?"
"I lived in Champaign for four years. My daughter was born there."
"That's kind of crazy to me that you know that. Who would have thought? Well, I get to Carle Clinic and I need emergency heart surgery. Let me tell you it was a long road back and many times I didn't think I was going to make it but here I am. You see where I'm at, right? From football to steroids to this scar to being on Coumadin the rest of my life. Never finished college even though both my parents have a PhD."
"I didn't finish college either and married someone with a PhD. so maybe both of us ended up in the right place after all."
"Maybe. I'd sure go back and change things if I could, but heck, who else in Kansas City has ever been in Carle Clinic besides you and me? For all we know we could have been there at the same time. You having a baby and me trying not to die."
The piece of wood he cut was off by 1/4". I'm not sure if it was my mistake at measuring or his at cutting and I ended up taking it to my neighbor to get it trimmed.
My project got delayed by a day but I didn't even care.
It's not often that a small world and a big story collide.