It’s a small independent repair shop and Don, his eyes brimming with tears, told me he was behind on orders. His dad died yesterday. I don’t know Don beyond our sporadic vacuum cleaner encounters but as I hugged him he cried and and apologized that he was having trouble focusing on work. I suggested perhaps he should close the shop for a few days. But no, business must go on. He would call me when Henry was repaired, maybe even Saturday as he planned to work through the weekend to catch up. Business must go on. Such a common response in a culture where bereavement days are measured in single digits, counted on one hand.
Some years ago friends and I were visiting the small Irish village of Adara, birthplace of Donegal tweed. Our plans were to spend one night, wander the shops the next day and then head south to Sligo Town. But our plans changed when, at breakfast, our B&B host told us that a young man of the village, driving home after working a night shift, had fallen asleep and drifted over the center line. He was hit by a truck and killed instantly.
The entire village shut down. Schools and businesses closed for the day as everyone gathered at the church. We would have slipped quietly out of town but we had clothes to collect at the local laundry which would now not be open until the following morning.
This came back to me as I left the repair shop. Open. Business as usual. I had encouraged Don to take some time, told him that Henry can wait. Although I believe his heart heard the message I knew he would stay at work.