The Red Toolbox

Feb 15, 2012

Darkness approached. With difficulty we crammed a sofa into Mauro and Margarete’s station wagon. I handed Mauro his heavy red tool box which had been set aside on our driveway. We embraced and they left for their apartment in the next town. Barbara and I had been helping this couple who ran from unemployment and rampant inflation in Brazil. At that time our two-stall carport and driveway roofed with tarps, were crowded with donated sofas, bureaus, tables and chairs which we passed on to needy families. Our cellar was filled with household items such as dishes, pots and pans, and small appliances.

Several minutes after we went inside to make supper, our front doorbell rang. Mauro was standing on our unlit door step with his red toolbox in his right hand. “I want you to have this,”  he said softly. Earlier, I had mentioned to Mauro that someone had made off with my tool box thinking it was part of our inventory for the taking. Mauro and Margarete had discussed my loss and after a few miles down the road, turned around and returned to our house.
It was an awkward moment. I choked up. I could not refuse.
The tool box and the tools inside were superior to mine. Mauro had been an auto mechanic in Brazil. There was a complete set of sockets and wrenches – both Metric and English. There was a variety of Philips-head and flat-head screwdrivers plus a hack saw, tri-square and vise grips.
Mauro and Margarete were diligent about making a new life in this country. They ran the Green Card marathon. With their positive attitude and work ethic, they adapted to our culture. Margarete always greeted us with open arms and a kiss on the cheek. Mauro was more reserved. When they brought their friends to get help from us, Margarete always took time to sit and visit with my aged mother in our living room. On each of our birthdays, she and a friend would suddenly appear with song and a huge homemade cake.
For the last twelve years, this bright red tool box has been sitting in full view under my work bench in our walkout cellar. As I walk by it each day I am reminded of Mauro and Margarete’s compassion for others.
– Ira Smith