Note: Here’s the first of what I hope will be oodles of guest posts by my extremely gifted friend Adriane DeVries. I’m not sure where to put this post–it could go in sales or garbage to gold. So I think I’ll just put it in “uncategorized” for now. As usual, Adriane made me think about deeper things as she wrote about her salvaging pursuits. Enjoy, and be sure and post your reaction to Adriane’s nearly free, perfectly tinted paint!
My kiddos and I were out running errands early in spring. We weren’t expecting a garage sale, but when we saw the sign—one of the first ones of open season on treasure—we couldn’t resist its pull.
It wasn’t a great sale, maybe because we had arrived after it had been picked over, and we were about to leave when I came upon six cans of unopened latex house paint, brand new, all in antique white, for $5 per can, sitting on the ground next to the checkout lady. It just so happens that I use shades of white almost every day in my studio to paint the furniture and home décor items I salvage from garage sales and thrift stores for resale in a local shop; so I considered this paint deal just the kind of coup I needed to replenish my supplies. There was just one problem: I only had $20 in my wallet, and I wanted all six cans. I asked if there was any chance they could take $3 each instead, and lo and behold, they said yes! I was the proud new owner of six cans of unopened, fresh paint for my many projects, enough to last me a couple years!
Two months later, I decided to tackle a couple major painting projects in the house while the kids were at a summer VBS. I wanted to paint our homeschool room a fresh shade of yellow to cover the scuffed and dingy beige it had faded to, and I wanted to completely makeover my bedroom from the mint green that made me want to puke to a fresh and cheeky robin’s egg blue. My diabolical plan was to take several gallons of the (new! unopened!) garage sale paint to Home Depot to see if they would tint it for me (for free of course). It had worked in the past, so the worst thing that could happen was that they would say no.
Using my biceps of steel, I carried a can in each hand and traipsed through the automatic doors.
In the paint department, I repeated my story of wanting to tint these cans of cheap garage sale paint into something similar to the butter yellow and the robin’s egg blue that I was dreaming of. The sales associate said, “Oh, I can do that for you with our tinting machine.” Oh, really? That would be swell!
So my new friend worked his magic with the digitized machine using the paint chips I had picked out. While the spinner mixed the colors, we chatted. He had noticed I had a “Got Jesus?” shirt on (and when I wear this I feel compelled to drive very courteously in case of an accident), and he said, “So where do you attend?”, meaning what church. I told him, and he told me where he attended. We got on the subject of Love Wins, and he said that sometimes it doesn’t, like when your wife leaves you and drags you through a messy divorce. He was newly single, and clearly in a lot of pain. My heart sank for him. He was younger than me, and now his hopes of having the kind of life I take for granted were dashed, at least until he could find the strength to move on. While the paint wobbled in the turnstyle, I quietly said, “I’m so sorry about your divorce. They just don’t make Hallmark cards for that, do they?” He said no, and thank you. Then he said, “I see you’re not married,” and I said, “What?”, showing him my ring. Flustered, he said, “Oh, I was looking at the wrong hand.” I get that sometimes. My ring is pretty small due to the painting I do every day. His face flushed with embarrassment, and I quickly moved the topic along to other things.
It was just so sad. There was such a gaping chasm between his messy divorced singleness and my small-ringed nuptial bliss. We were quiet for a long time. I couldn’t imagine a life without my family. Or his loss of one.
When he took the paint out of the spinner, it had turned green—almost the same pukey mint that I was trying to cover in the first place. He was surprised and said he must have entered the numbers wrong (probably while he was looking at the wrong, no-ringed hand). He said, “I ruined your paint, so I’m going to give you one of these.” He reached over for the $22 per gallon Behr that he had been raving about while we were first chatting, tinted it perfectly, and gave it to me gratis.
I was pleased with my fancy new paint, but I didn’t feel so victorious. I was sad for my new friend. As I drove back to summer camp to pick up my darling children, I prayed for him, and I looked at my simple ring on my left hand with renewed appreciation, despite its small size.