The Spirit of Giving


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Yes, I’m one of the crazy people who shop the Black Friday Deals. I love finding a bargain. I’ve heard and seen the horror stories in the media of people pushing others out of the way to get that last sale item or even grab an item out of another’s hand because they felt they should’ve been the one to get it. I’m sure it happens, but I’ve never witnessed it in person. Instead, I’ve had strangers offer to share their cart with me to relieve my arms which were too full of must-buy items because there wasn’t an available cart. I’ve also had strangers offer to save my place in a long line while I run back and get a forgotten item. One year I bought a large television, back in the day when they were thick and bulky. My eyes were bigger than the car trunks dimension and I couldn’t get it to fit. The next option was the back seat. Now if you shop Black Friday you know there are no employees available at WalMart to help load your items. They’re all too busy indoors to even think about coming outdoors. The T.V. was heavy and awkward, but I was determined to somehow get it home. Lucky for me, a stranger stopped his holiday rush to assist me in this nearly impossible endeavor. After several tries of moving seats and pushing up the car door weather-stripping we finally got it loaded. I’ve since learned to better plan my shopping day and have a van instead of a car. My experience is that most people want to be thoughtful and caring, even on Black Friday.

This year my grand experience with strangers happened just before Black Friday. For months I’ve been worrying and researching how and where I could get Mark’s broken standing frame repaired. I’m not talking about a decorative wood folding stand that holds pictures or a mirror or shelves like most people relate to, but rather a standing device which assists a wheelchair dependent person to stand. The standing frame has been an essential piece of equipment at our house since Mark came home from the hospital in 1991. It provides an alternative position from sitting in a wheelchair and the weight bearing is important for his muscles and bones as it supports him in the standing position. The old standing frame started leaking hydraulic fluid last April, so I kept a pie pan underneath it to catch the drips. I started asking repair or handymen where I should take the standing frame to have it fixed. Most people couldn’t even imagine what a standing frame is let alone where to get it fixed.

As the months passed, it got harder to pump in the upward position. While Mark was at Rocky Mountain Care Center, I asked their equipment maintenance man where I might take Mark’s standing frame to be fixed. “The hydraulic lifts can’t be fixed,” he said.

Thinking it couldn’t be repaired, I started looking into replacing it. Not one medical supply company I called in the Salt Lake Valley carried one, so I searched the internet for one. The cheapest one I could find was $2,600. The rest of the standing frame was in good shape, so I wasn’t eager to buy a new one and although it kept getting harder to get him up and down, we kept using it. After time, the handle bent with the pressure it took to pump the hydraulic and one night after pumping him straight up it completely broke off. Getting him out of it was a chore because without the handle we couldn’t release the hydraulic.

“I don’t believe you can’t get a hydraulic fixed,” my Dad replied after I told him of my search for options. By now, I had posted on facebook and had a poster at Neuroworx and the TBI Conference that I was looking for a gently used standing frame. Dad started his own search and found Gustin Hydraulics in Salt Lake who was willing to take a look at it. Thankfully my dad was able to take the hydraulic off and into their shop. They filled it with oil, found the leak and repaired it with new seals for a total charge of $55.67. I was thrilled until we reinstalled the hydraulic and it wouldn’t work.

“Bring in the whole standing frame and I’ll take a look at it,” the repairman said, not fully realizing what a standing frame is. Dad and I loaded it in the van and he took it in.

Mark StandingBy the end of the day they reinstalled the hydraulic, which we had installed incorrectly, made a new metal handle and painted it to replace the broken one. They made it look as good as new. By now I was willing to pay some big bucks for this much needed piece of equipment and to have this long time problem and worry solved, but they wouldn’t let us pay a dime more than the hydraulic repair. What a splendid group of men at Gustin Hydraulics. They are caring strangers whom I’ve never met before. They took pride in their workmanship and wouldn’t let us reimburse them for their time, paint and the materials for a new handle.

Acts of service are the true spirit of giving. When we deliver a helping hand to a stranger we may not know how much it means or the difference it will make in their life. It’s the warmth and joy of the holiday season. I’m grateful for strangers who share their shopping cart, reach an item for me, save my place in a long line or help me load my vehicle. This year I’m grateful for the crew at Gustin Hydraulics for fixing a much needed standing frame for Mark and making it look new again. If you need any kind of hydraulic repair, I suggest you give Gustin Hydraulics a call at 801-487-0624. I’m sure they’ll take as good of care of you as they did us.