And it sure ended with a .... I was gonna say bang, but it seems like a bad choice of words given the circumstances.
The last day the business was opened, Friday, is a day that I can say with certainty will never be forgotten. Jesse said he should have known it wouldn't go out quietly.
Desperate times can make otherwise decent people do desperate things.
It started a couple weeks ago when a woman brought her car in to be fixed. The insurance adjuster appraised it at $3700 and she added on $1000 worth of work that wasn't covered. She agreed to the charges and signed off on it. The work was completed and the insurance company sent a check to the business for.... $1033. Upon calling the insurance company several times it became clear to her that she wasn't going to get the money from them... Jesse called several times on her behalf, as well. She, feeling trapped, decided to try to bully it out of the business by claiming that she was being ripped off. You can't fight big business, but you can go down to the local small business and throw a fit, you know? She did that and when that didn't work, she brought her husband back. Jesse said her husband was reasonable enough when they spoke on Wednesday and he laid everything out for them. Friday rolls around and it becomes very clear to them that they are going to lose their vehicle because they can't pay for it. They came in with $300 towards their bill which would have brought the total they paid towards the job to about $2000, including the insurance check. Jesse said the man was agitated and aggressive from the very start. He tried to talk him down, but the situation was escalating, quickly. The man stepped up to Jesse very aggressively and the store manager, Chris, quickly stepped between them and told the man to step off. Jesse said the next thing he knew, Chris was pinned on the ground and the man was on him beating him viciously. Somebody called 911 at this point. His back was to Jesse so he couldn't really see if he was using a weapon or his fists. He pulled his gun out of it's holster and told the man to step away from Chris. He came at Jesse and dared him to shoot him and then said he was going to take the gun from him and kill him with it. At this point, four crew members from the back of the shop where lined up behind Jesse. Jesse, who had no intention of shooting an unarmed man, put the gun back in it's holster and asked the man if he really thought that was going to happen. The man grabbed Jesse's shirt with one fist and attempted to punch him with the other. Jesse ducked his head back and he only caught the edge of his glasses, knocking them almost off. Jesse was cut and bleeding just below his collarbone from the way the man grabbed his shirt. Jesse, even at this point, was pretty calm. He took off his glasses, folded them and put them on his desk. He had pretty much decided at this point he had enough. He started to go after him and the man said, NO, let's take it outside and turned.... to meet my uncle's fist. My Uncle John, who is a small Irish pit bull with a heart of gold, nailed him straight out in the face 3-4 times before two of Jesse's crew member's rushed over to drag John off of him. When they did the man took advantage and managed to get John twice in the face while the crew member's had his arms. They feel really really bad about it, because it resulted in the worst black eye I have EVER seen and 5 stitches in his mouth. At that point the police came (within 10 minutes!!! In North Philly it can and has taken them an HOUR for them to show up!). They arrested the man. First though, they threw Jesse on the hood of the car and took his gun (which yes, it is registered and he has a concealed weapon permit). Four other police cars showed up-must have been a slow day in Philly!-. Several knew Jesse. They quickly told the over-zealous cop that Jesse was one of the good guys and to let him up. Jesse and John went to the police station and gave their statements. The guys rap sheet had been totally clean for about 9 years (he's 46)... and even then the offense was a minor drug possession. Even so, the police said that if they pressed charges it was a minimum of 2 years behind bars. John, being the most injured, was given the most say. He chose instead to go in to the holding room with Jesse and talk to the attacker. As soon as they walked in the guy was choked up and effusively apologetic. He said he didn't know what came over him and that he isn't "that guy". He has an 8 year old and coaches little league in the city for underprivileged kids! He said he was feeling desperate and ripped off (by the insurance company) and lost his head. He asked for forgiveness and Jesse and John gave it. Then they drove him back to the shop, took the $300 and gave him his car. The dilemma, for them, at this point was how to pay their crew their last paychecks, as this job was how they had intended to do it. They went to return some rental equipment they where using in the last month and instead of owing $3000, like they should have, the store owner charged them $1000! They had the money to pay the guys!!!
Praise God! for His Mercy, His Grace, His Loving Protective Hand, His Provision in the whole situation. Jesse and I are still in awe. But for the absolute Grace of God, it could have all ended so badly, for everyone. Grace, for those that don't know, is the unearned, undeserved love of our loving Heavenly Father. You can't earn it, you don't deserve it and yet He chooses to give it extravagantly. This is the absolute foundation of my faith and I believe it with all my heart.
We both feel, now, that God used this situation to show us that we are on the right path. The one He wants for us. Jesse begins building his Solar Power Energy Company first thing Monday morning.
After all that, the fear I felt about being unemployed has been replaced with a really peaceful, optimistic feeling. I am actually looking forward to seeing this....
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11