Last week the Shack was shut down by the long arm of the state.
At the completion of their triannual inspection Jerry and Eva learned that the Shack’s former owner made some promises that were not kept and that it must fall on Jerry and Eva to be the promise-keepers for the Shack to remain open. They were told that they must install a septic system for the business, even though the business does not own the land it sits on.
This is a big obstacle for these folks who reckon that, at the end of the day, each clears only fifty cents an hour. In any other place, and for any other business, this requirement would likely have meant curtains. Not so with the Shack.
The day after the inspector shut them down, I was sitting with Jerry and Eva beneath the closed sign as they struggled to get their heads around things and figure out exactly what to do. They were still debating whether or not to close the business when Jerry straightened his back and announced, “We’ve gotta keep it open.”
A few minutes later a once-a-week customer from Midland pulled up and, ignoring the closed sign, came into the Shack to find out what was going on. When the situation was explained, he pressed a couple twenties in Jerry’s hand. “I hope this will help,” he said.
Another customer stopped by and the same thing played out.
And then a third. “I don’t have much cash with me right now,” he said. “Will you please stop by on your way home, and I’ll write you a check?”
Afterwards I told Eva: “This will be better for your business than if it had never happened.”
“Do you really think so?” she asked.
“The Love Shack is too important to people for them to let the state shut you down,” I answered. “These donations are just the beginning. And after people invest in the place, they’ll come here more often. They won’t ever let you shut down.”
“I hope you’re right,” Eva said a little doubtfully.
Eva’s feeling no doubts now.
I just got off the phone with her and she’s told me that over the weekend a contractor had volunteered to dig the hole and install the whole system without charge. Yesterday at church so many people were putting money in Jerry’s shirt pocket that Eva is pretty sure they now have enough money to cover the materials for the septic system. John Wells has put out an appeal on his website (http://thefieldlab.blogspot.com/) for people to enroll in the “Friends of the Grub Shack” by making donations and have their names listed on a plaque.
Eva is thinking that maybe there will even be enough money for them to buy a new refrigerator that the inspector said they need to replace (it was cooling one degree too low—big deal!).
The community needs the Shack to remain open and for Jerry and Eva to be there for them. On Saturday while we were away at the wedding, some people were meeting and talking at the closed Grub Shack and a verbal fight happened that would not have taken place had Eva been there. No one would ever consider getting out of line or being mean or rude in her presence. It would be just too unseemly.
We need this little patch of shade and civility and goodwill in our hardscrabble desert homeland. While it is here, no one ever goes hungry. No one is ever unloved.
Even Dirty Mike was always on his best behavior when he was at the Shack.
Groove of the Day