(aka Colemans Rule!)
So my house flooded last month, because why not. And not just my house, but several thousand of them where I live. You may have seen it on the news – a dam broke about 30 miles north of where I live and forced an immediate evacuation of about 10,000 families immediately downriver, of which mine was one. We ended up with three feet of sewage water in our basement, which smells exactly as nice as it sounds by the way. And of the people in the affected area, we were comparatively fortunate. The small town four miles west of my home was almost entirely destroyed. Three days after the flood I went for a bike ride on the trail near my home, and there are cars and mobile homes and entire buildings scattered on either side of it. I’ve seen this kind of thing on the news before, but I’ve never lived it.
We were actually visiting family when the dam broke and our neighborhood evacuated, so we were lucky we had a dry place to stay. Some weren’t so fortunate. When it was all over and the damage had been done, I drove back and left my wife and children with my mother while my brother Adam drove up to Michigan with me to help me rip up sewage-soaked carpet and strip the rest of the basement down to the studs. We arrived at 9pm on a Friday, worked until about 1am, then started again the next morning at 6:30am and finished around 5pm.
I’m pretty sure that 14 hours of work is the most grueling I have ever done. But the reason it was only 14 hours, instead of 20 or 30, is thanks to the Colemans, who are the reason I’m writing this article.
Rod Coleman is my neighbor and financial advisor. I met him when we moved into our house 6 years ago, when his wife Jen essentially assaulted our golden retriever while we taking him for a walk and insisted that she let her pet him. (He happily obliged.) They have three children (Max, Alex, and Ellie) and we have been friendly with them for several years – drinks on the back deck, a few dinners together, you get the idea, it’s your standard neighborly arrangement. My wife and I have always said that the Colemans are pretty good people.
But we were wrong. They are incredible people. When the flooded started Rod and his sons came over to assess the damage (9 inches and rising), and then carted as many boxes and pieces of equipment as they could out of our storage area. Everything that was saved from our basement is thanks to them. The next morning they kayaked over to our house (street was 3 feet under water), took pictures and video to help us for our inevitable insurance claim, and opened all the windows so that the house could begin to air out. And then Rod, Jen, Max and Alex came over and spent four hours helping us haul ruined furniture and crumbling drywall and soaking strips of carpet to the curb. Ellie would have come, by the way, but she had a chemistry final she had to take.
They didn’t have to do any of that, and there’s really no way to properly thank them. I can tell you for certain that we will retain the services of SYM Financial for as long as they’ll have us. (www.sym.com if you’re interested.) But they didn’t do this as a creative way of marketing Rod’s business. And they don’t need or expect anything in return. Helping others is just what they do.
I’m writing all of this for two reasons. First, I wanted to tell everyone I can that the Colemans are awesome. (Adam, you’re awesome too, and I can’t thank you enough, but you were also at least semi-obligated to help me. Mom would have gotten mad at you if you hadn’t.) This is the best way I know how to thank them.
But I also wanted to point out that this is how we beat the pandemic, or any of the other crises and tragedies and hardship we will all eventually experience – by helping each other. So if you have some friends or neighbors you haven’t talked to in a while, consider checking in on them and seeing if there’s something you can do. We’re all dealing with more difficulty and stress than we would like to be, and we are not wired to deal with all of it entirely on our own. If we were, we would never have bothered to build a society in the first place.
I hope you’re well. And I also hope you don’t have sewage in your basement. There are better ways to spend a Saturday.