November 27th 2004 A Random Story Involving a Hook and Jesus

Sometimes it is quite amazing the things your mind digs up. Tonight, I was reminded of a customer I once had while I still worked at Cole’s Hardware. That was quite a long time ago—two years, in fact. Ah, I was such a wee one back then, a naïve seventeen-year-old junior in high school. Much has changed since that time, but this story is timeless.

It all began with one customer who wanted a filter for his Shop-Vac. A simple request, yes? I found the appropriate filter for him and rang him out. Boring, run-of-the-mill story so far. But here’s where we get a twist. The elderly gentleman asked if I could put the filter on for him. Why did he need help? Well, my question was answered as he placed his personal Shop-Vac on the counter. The man had a hook for a hand—or rather, two hooks, complete with hinges so that they could grasp some objects (though not a Shop-Vac filter). I thought those things were only in the movies, but I guess I was wrong.

I was not trained in replacing Shop-Vac filters, but I undertook the operation anyway, to great success. When I was done, the man congratulated me, saying, “Thank you, sir. You are a gentleman and a scholar… Tell me, son, do you believe in Jesus?”

I was flabbergasted. I couldn’t say yes—that’d be lying! But I didn’t want to deny the Son of God to a man with a hook for a right hand—I had no idea how he got that hook in the first place! So I answered with the only thing that came to mind: “Have a nice afternoon, sir!”

At the time, I thought it was the most boring place in the world, but in retrospect, Cole’s was kind of exciting after all.