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Friday, May 25, 2018
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Bless the fixers who make things work

Everything eventually gets old, breaks down and needs repair, including me. Oscar and I just had two toilets, one shower, a leaking kitchen sink, a bad knee and two cataracts fixed. Waiting in the wings are a bathroom light fixture and stained carpet.

Is it use or abuse that encourages these breakdowns? So many of our age-mates have new hips, new knees, better eyes and improved heart function – after we’ve all been fixed.

And what about choosing good fixers? We scout reputations, look up biographies, talk with neighbors and friends, check online, and then select repairmen (or women) to do the job. Whether they have earned a medical degree or become master plumbers, they’ve credentialed themselves and somehow managed to advertise their skills.

And so we entrust our toilets, carburetors, leaking roofs and painful backs to their care and ministrations. And when the job is complete and well-done, we pay the price and thank them for their careful work. But sometimes I think there is more that we can do to express our gratitude for a good fix.

When our multiple plumbing malfunctions insisted on repair, we checked our Rolodex to look up whom we had called previously. Three plumbers were listed, and we recalled that one of them had been particularly helpful both in the fix and in educating us as to preventive care. So we called him.

He arrived with an assistant and they did a thorough job of tightening, screwing, replacing and explaining. I was so impressed that as I thanked them, I asked them who their boss was so that I could call and pass on the compliment. As soon as they walked out the door, I phoned the company and told them how happy we were with their service.

I think that people who do a good job deserve appreciation and recognition of their efforts, and I can’t think of a better way to say thank you than to let both them and their managers know. I also do this in restaurants. I say thank you to a server who works hard and does a good job, but I also ask to speak with the manager as I’m leaving. And frequently the managers approach me with apprehension, ready for a complaint. When I tell them what a good job their employee did, their expression always changes to a smile and they’re grateful for the feedback.

I guess it’s part of my philosophy to do this. It only takes a second, but to me it’s a very tiny way to make the world a better place. And most often, the manager responds by saying, “I’ll let him (or her) know you spoke with me.”

In today’s manual of parenting skills, it recommends that when our children work hard, we acknowledge their efforts with a smile and say “Good job!” Such gratitude needn’t be limited to our children.

Freelance writer Judy Kramer can be reached by email at [email protected] She is author of the book “Changing Places: A Journey with My Parents into Their Old Age.”

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