Wednesday, February 4, 1987
Mrs. Wise is a spry and frugal 76-year-old who has lived in Portola Valley since before it was a town. She had the good luck to own a small ranch and the good sense to sell strategic pieces of what is now one of the wealthiest towns in the USA. She lives alone. She maintains an immaculate house and yard. She has selective bad hearing.
She shows me her garage and says she wants to install a washer and dryer "if it doesn't cost too much."
I quote a price.
She says, "That's too much."
We are standing in the garage. I give Mrs. Wise my card, turn to go -- and a white horse sticks his head through the open garage window. Shaking his head, the horse mutters something in horse talk.
"All right," Mrs. Wise says. "You've got the job."
While I work, Mrs. Wise digs in the garden and sweeps the floor and feeds the horse and fills the water trough and drags two garbage cans down the driveway and complains about how feeble she is.
I finish the installation. She pays me. As I'm loading my truck, she says, "You're not going to leave me with that dripping faucet are you?" She's pointing to a hose bibb.
I try to explain that the hose has nothing to do with the work I've performed, but I'll be happy to make the repair. Suddenly her hearing has gone very bad. The horse nuzzles apologetically at my back pocket.
In five minutes, I've fixed the hose faucet.
No charge for that. It isn't worth the hassle.
And she knows it.