I Heart Robert

He had a William Shatner thing going.  He was older than me, by at least twenty years, but young, nice jeans, good shoes, great smelling cologne that I caught a whiff of as he whizzed by with his tool box.  He sang to himself as he walked from his van to my front door.

I was in denial about my dryer, the rattling that got louder and louder that one week, during softball season where there was mud on all of my daughter’s clothes.



With a family of five, Laundromat was a dirty word.  I desperately called around to friends to find a repair person.  His name came up over and over.  He was good, I was told. He was honest. He got there quickly.

We make small talk as he works.  He tells me about his recent trip to Disney with his grandchildren.

He sings to himself as I run to other rooms to check on my children and take phone calls.

After fixing the rattle in the dryer, he scolds me – nicely –  for the overabundance of lint sitting in my dryer filter.

“I’m the worst at that,” I say, without any excuses.  I smile apologetically.

We settle the bill.

“You have a good aura,” Robert says as he writes out my receipt.

I ask myself if I heard him right.

“Some houses, I walk into and I feel the negativity all around.  You?  You have a happy soul.  It’s a happy house.”

“Thanks,” I say. I feel like I should say more.  But I’m not exactly sure what.

“You should see some couples fight over their appliances.  One house I went to yesterday with a broken washing machine, the two of them couldn’t stop taking shots at each other over whose fault it was that it stopped working.  This one was blaming that one, and that one was blaming this one.  It was no one’s fault that the washer broke.”

I nod in understanding. “It’s almost as if they needed to blame something on each other.  Just because.”

“Exactly.”  Robert looks at me, his captive audience.  “There’s so much blame in this world.  For nothing.”

“I know.  I see it too.  Isn’t that a shame?”

“All that rehashing.  It takes up energy.  If it’s broken, just fix it. Fix it and move on. Do you think this dyer is going to sit around for the next six months rehashing the fact it was broken?  Or trying to place blame on someone for why it wasn’t working? Although on a side note you’d go to appliance jail for the amount of lint I found in that filter. But seriously.  The dryer is fixed now and it will work again as it’s supposed to.  We humans are the only ones that complicate that process.”  Robert shakes his head and hands me my receipt. “Too much rehashing.  Too much finger pointing over nothing. ”

We chat for a while.  I’m a little sad when he gets up to leave.

A year later, I call Robert for a bad hose in the washing machine.

“I remember you!” He says excitedly as he walks into my kitchen.  “You have a happy soul!”

“That’s me!” I squeal. It feels like the best compliment in the world.

The last time Robert comes, for a leak in my refrigerator, the “For Sale” sign is in front of the house. When he walks in, he looks serious.  “You’re moving?  Where to?”

When he leaves me that day, with a refrigerator as good as new, he stops at the door. “I wish you luck, I hope I don’t have to come back here again before you leave, but I’ll miss coming here.”

“It’s always so nice to see you,” I say, as if I’m talking to an old friend.

“And for crying out loud, can you please remember to empty the lint filter?”   He shakes his head back and forth as he walks toward his van.  Even from behind, I can see the smile in the corner of his face.

Earlier today, I left the owner’s manuals for my appliances in an envelope on the windowsill for the buyers of my house.  On the front of it, I wrote Robert’s phone number.   The new owners will think I’ve done this to be helpful, should there be a problem with an appliance, they can call a repair person who has a history with these machines.  But it’s more than that.  They will be calling a repair person who has a history with me. Robert will come in and hum his song and chit chat and work on his repair, and even though I won’t be there, I will be there.  And Robert will remind me that what’s broken can be fixed.  It’s that simple.


I Heart Robert — 74 Comments

  1. You know I was just thinking about this, how much having the old owners’ repair people helped us when we moved in. And not because of them knowing the house and appliances but because of them being trusted by the former owners. Of course, I’m thinking this because the plumber needs to come gently convince my husband that the hot water heater can’t be revived this time, but at least Scott and I agree it’s nobody’s fault I’m boiling water for the kids’ baths while he and I take cold showers.
    Jester Queen recently posted…All My Best Friends Are Dead Rock StarsMy Profile

    • I hope that plumber can convince Scott of that! And yes, you’re so right about this man being trusted by me, and how that says a lot to the people who are new.

  2. I heart this story. So much. Robert is wise – it really is simple when you think of it. Let’s fix and move on. The back and forth doesn’t solve anything. In fact, it usually just complicates things.
    Kim recently posted…Someone Else, Not MeMy Profile

    • I have had the best talks with this man about people and life and relationships, but this one was one of my favorites. I am so lucky I got to know him!

  3. Totally just cried. Right onto my keyboard. I love everything about this post, but my most favorite part was “I remember you!” He says excitedly as he walks into my kitchen. “You have a happy soul!”

    “That’s me!” I squeal.
    Lisa and I were JUST talking about you yesterday and how you radiate happiness and goodness and light into the world. This world is lucky to have you in it. :)-Ashley
    thedoseofreality recently posted…“Arie” Ready To Know The Tweeting Champion?My Profile

    • OK – now *I’m* about to cry into my keyboard because you know I think THE WORLD of you and Lisa – just the world. And I feel the same way, that the world is lucky to you the two of you in it. xo

  4. This has got to be the best repairman story I have ever (and will ever) hear. Robert sounds like a great guy, and so much more than a repairman. I don’t feel like I often get this type of human connection with people who are hired to do a job (which, of course, I know I am partially to blame….but wait, too much blaming!) I love this line: “Do you think this dyer is going to sit around for the next six months rehashing the fact it was broken?” So true, too much time spent on blame, it’s not worth it!
    Bev @ Linkouture recently posted…I’m a Blogger, And Damn Proud of It!: Reflections from a #BlogHerNewbie Part 2My Profile

    • It’s never worth the time to blame. Ever. And he drove this point home for me perfectly with the dryer example. I am so lucky to have had this man as one of my teachers.

    • I hope the new owners call on Robert and I think they will all get along great. I met the new owners in a peripheral kind of way, but they seem very warm to me. I think they will keep the good aura there for sure!

  5. Dangit girl, everything goes so deep with you – you are a little frightening to me some days. Because you make me feel things about things and think about things in a way I only did when I was much younger. I think my contentedness has bred a sort of top-skimming for me.

    You force me to love you.

    And the message? Boy is it a message I need. Over and over again. Thank you for the bottom of my heart.
    tammigirl recently posted…Nine Things I Would Do Differently When I Build This House AgainMy Profile

    • Haha! Everything goes deep with me indeed! And I love Robert’s message because it’s so simple yet so powerful. Don’t thank me so much as we should all thank Robert.

  6. I love Robert too! I love how he told you this – many people think things but don’t understand the value of sharing their good thoughts. Ilene, you radiate love and happiness and all good things from your writing too. You have a great “writing aura”. I guess your writing truly is refections from your happy soul:) You touch me every time.
    leah davidosn recently posted…Quote of the WeekMy Profile

    • That is the nicest compliment, Leah, and I thank you for that! And I completely agree with you in the value of sharing these types of thoughts with others. There is so much to learn from the experiences and wisdom of those around us!

    • Yes! Yes! A reminder to see people and not things. I love that. I love that I desperately needed my dryer to get fixed and got so much more than a repair when I met this amazing man.

    • And I love this comment! And I have to say that appliance jail would be a BLAST with you and Tamara. I would meet you guys there ANY time!

  7. Who would ever guess they’d have such deep, thought provoking, and memorable experiences with their repair man. It’s funny how people touch our lives and we touch theirs… this is a beautiful story.
    Alexa recently posted…I Failed…My Profile

    • I think everyone has the potential to touch our lives and ours theirs, when we pay attention. I love when I make these types of unexpected connections.

  8. Only you could make me cry over broken appliances and a repair man. This was so awesome. If it’s broke, fix it. It’s that simple. We have so many things broken over here (literally, not figuratively) and instead of just fixing it, we blame and it doesn’t get fixed at all.
    AnnMarie recently posted…Not All Rainbows and ButterfliesMy Profile

    • This man broke it down for me so beautifully and in such simple terms. And he has allowed his line of work to allow himself to really get to know people. He was a wonder.

  9. I’ve been a victim to the lint monster before 🙂 I too picked up on your Happy Soul in Charlotte! Your blog is a blessing just as seemingly insignificant chatter from Mr Fix It. There is wisdom to be taken from most encounters and this nugget you shared is perfect. I mean really…the dryer is seriously not thinking about who or what broke it. The blame game will get us nowhere.
    Joi @ Rx Fitness Lady recently posted…A Day in the Life: My Name is NOT JoanneMy Profile

    • Thank you Joi. And I love how that seemingly insignificant chatter can mean so much when we listen. It was such a testament to how everyone has something to offer and something important to say.

  10. Oh such a PRECIOUS story Ilene!!! I just love it… I felt like I was reading a chapter in a book. Perhaps a memoir or something… 😉 Oh how I bet your light shines so bright- in person as much or even more than in writing. (And on the phone!)
    Chris Carter recently posted…My Blogging Break FailedMy Profile

    • Light? I see this huge ray come out the end of my phone every time we speak. When the two of us meet in real life one day, I’m going to have to bring my sun glasses, for sure! 🙂

    • I have never, ever once been disappointed from looking up. Not once. There is a treasure to be gained from every connection we make. Every single one. I believe that. And the story of Robert is a great reminder.

  11. Love the post Ilene… I swear you should write a book! I love your way with words and piecing it all together!!! Robert sounds like a very special man! He spoke the truth.. nine times out of ten we put way to much energy into placing the blame, rather than finding the solution and moving on! Thanks for sharing Ilene! ~Leah~
    Leah Elizabeth Locklear recently posted…HAPPIER, HEALTHIER YOU!My Profile

    • Thank you Leah and amen. The blame game takes too much time and energy. The fix it and move on message resonates so true for me. I hope I can try to live in those words every day.

  12. Not only is Robert a talented tech, but he is a marvelous judge of character, too. 🙂
    Over and over again, I see how just one small drop of kindness can refresh us in huge ways.
    It’s a story I never tire of hearing.
    I’m so glad you are ready to move, and I have no doubt the new owners will benefit from the love that has settled into the house.
    We, too, sold our house Monday. The new owners—first time buyers—skipped out of the bank arm in arm, joyfully giggling, “We’re homeowners!”. So sweet!
    Kim recently posted…I Need You and You Need MeMy Profile

    • Oh, I am squeeing all over the place for you Kim, that you closed on your house and that lovely scene of the new homeowners skipping out of the bank. That makes me smile. And you are so right about that one drop of kindness. It goes a long way.

  13. You’ve done it once again. It’s good to have a Robert in our lives – sometimes we don’t realize how those small connections are so important. I’m glad he was there to remind you that what’s broken can be fixed, especially us. xoxo
    Krystal recently posted…The Good Side of AutismMy Profile

  14. this is the post that made me cry. I’ve read 3 of your posts this morning since finding you on my comments dashboard Ilene. I am loving your posts like you loved Allie’s. robert is so right. there is too much blame in this world. i’m a very big believer of fixing what’s broken and then moving on. hugs to you girlfriend. looking forward to following your journey.
    vanita recently posted…The Truth About Whether You Need SEOMy Profile

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