Listen closely to hear people’s real stories

Published 9:45 am Wednesday, June 21, 2023

By Ricky Swindle
Muffler Shop Musings

Howdy, friends!

I don’t know what it is about this old shop on the corner, but folks will come here and tell us anything and everything. 

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People used to come here all the time and tell Daddy their stories and now they tell them to me.

Daddy was a good listener, I suppose, and I try to be one too.

This old guy (he passed away a while ago) was notoriously cheap. It was well known he would squeeze a dollar until the eagle had a bowel movement, but he always came to see us with me knowing good and well beforehand it was going to be an ordeal to go through. 

But, other than being too frugal he was a good old dude in my book.

I asked him one day about his late wife, reminding him of what a wonderful person she was to me when I was young. Then, unexpectedly, he blurted out these words to me and I quote, “Ricky, I was a bastard to that woman our entire marriage.”

I was floored, mouth wide open and all.

Then he started telling me how cruel he was to her. He chastised her for being overweight and he never listened to a thing she had to say because her opinion didn’t matter to him.

He went on to say he knew she’d never leave him because she was a very devout Christian lady who made a commitment to him before God and the word divorce was never used by her. 

He rambled on for several minutes apologetically telling me all the wrong things he did to this beautiful soul I had known.

My opinion of him being a good man all these years was waning. I never knew. I didn’t need to know now. Why is he telling me all this?

As he wholeheartedly spoke to me, he told me about her getting sick and how the doctors had sent her home to be cared for 24 hours a day.

He said “Ricky, I wasn’t about to pay out all that money for caretakers so I told them I’d do it myself”. So they brought her home.

He told me of how she lived for two years with him taking care of her, not out of love, but out of greed.

Then he said “Ricky, you know what? In those last two years I got to really know her and I found out what a genuinely sweet and wonderful person she was and I hated myself for treating her so wrong all those years.”  

I just told him she must’ve figured eventually things would even out and she had the satisfaction of knowing that the man she loved actually loved her, too, in the end. That was all her big heart required.

Take care of yourself folks and listen to the folks around you. Things are not always as they appear.