Painting and Decorating Made Easier!

A True Hotel Holiday Tale…

 

At first, I thought the teen might have had a problem with depression. He sat on a nearby bench, doubled over. Just staring into the ground.

 

But depression turned out not to be what was weighing down this kid.

 

His name was Zachary. He was visiting Walt Disney World with his parents and grandparents. It was his nineteenth birthday. And evidently, one year ago, on December 24, he’d lost his little brother, Matt, to brain cancer.

 

“Matty was only nine,” the teenage guest told me.

 

We continued to chat as I clear-coated the span of wood railing.  Zachary said that his only sibling had had “a rough time” from the start.

 

“Matty was born with a hole in his heart.” Then the child was only five when he started to complain of “feeling whoozie” and “having pain inside” his head.

 

Zachary said that he felt guilty for being alive. And, with no problems at all.

 

Eventually, I ran out of railing to finish coat. And, I needed to move on to the next project on my list.

 

That afternoon, Zachary showed up again. I was repainting a large built-in seat in a rest area. The teen watched intently. He appeared to be much calmer.

 

“How do you do that?” he asked.

 

“Do what?”

 

“Maneuver that brush that way? Really radical.”

 

“Radical? Like in…?” I asked.

 

“Like in neat. Cool.” He hesitated. “I’d like to learn how to do that.”

 

“Step up. I’d be glad to show you.”

 

It was completely against policy. Letting a hotel guest be in a “fresh paint zone.” Letting a guest – a kid – handle any of our word tools, or use any paint product.

 

Probably, I could have gotten fired on the spot if my chief engineer would have come along. But, this kid – practically an adult – reminded me of someone else when he’d been grieving. Me – for my father.

 

Zachary stepped forward. I handed him a second two-inch angled paint brush, dipped in a little Forest Green paint.

 

“Closely watch my hand. It’s all in the wrist.”

 

The teen guest watched, then tried to mimic my wrist-hand movement. On the third try, he got the basic idea. A smile of satisfaction crossed his face.

 

“Matty loved to paint. I bought him an artist kit – you know, one of those sets in a metal box? The Christmas before… His last Christmas with us.”

 

The teen’s look dropped again. Like when I first spotted him that morning. I needed to do – to say – something.

 

“When my dad died suddenly, I thought I’d never paint again.” I told Zachary that my dad and I had worked together. “That made it extra hard,” I acknowledged.

 

I told the teen how one day I looked at Dad’s brushes. I picked up one of them. “And, you know what? That heavy feeling in my heart? It just sort of got a little better.”

 

The teen guest looked at me. He handed my brush back. And, he started to walk away. He turned back.

 

“I just remembered: I brought Matty’s artist kit along in my luggage.”

 

Zachary was going to be all right. At least for now, perhaps he had a way to make some sense of the whole thing. And, be able to enjoy the holidays with his parents, and grandparents – in their eighties.

 

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Take note. Heads up. Every guest… every coworker… could use a little boost.

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A year’s worth of thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

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