I should be studying. But I can’t not share this.
I’ve been having a hard time at ‘shoeing school lately. I’m still having a great time. We got to do a ton of trimming last week, and afterward, because it was our first warm day, I swam our river, just to see if I could. It was awesome. But lately, I’ve been having a hard time.
See, I’m running out of money. There’s all kinds of tools I really need, like a right handed hoof knife, and a clipping hammer. I had a tuition payment come due recently (I’m paying out of pocket to be debt-free, remember), not to mention it’s tax time, and I’ve still gotta eat. I’ve gotta eat more, in fact. I’ve lost more than a pound a week since getting here, which is somewhat concerning for a Crohn’s patient, and if I continue at this rate, it’s gonna be bad news.
But even as I’ve been really frustrated lately, I’ve got to brag on God’s providence. For example, people keep giving me hammers. I was getting to a point where the fact that I didn’t have a clipping hammer was impeding my progress. Just before graduation, I was practicing in the forge, and one of the upper classmen came up and was helping me. He considered what I was doing for a second and then commented, “That hammer looks really heavy for you. I’ve got a pound and a half rounding hammer and I think I’m going to give it to you.”
I thanked him, and then forgot about it. The afternoon of graduation for the upper class, as he was loading his truck to leave, I went down to shake his hand and say goodbye and all. I hadn’t even said hi before he ran inside and came out with the little rounding hammer for me. It sounds cheap of me to say it this way perhaps, but I was really touched that as he was loading up, with his girlfriend, his parents, his stuff, and his dog, he remembered the little hammer to give to me. It sat in my bucket of tools for a few days until a Monday shop night, when I finally found the time to tune the handle up, and put my mark on it. Then I got the new shop apprentice to help me modify it into a clipping hammer.
She lost about a quarter pound in the modifying process, and is thus a bit light for a clipping hammer, but I think she’s a beauty and I’m delighted with her. I named her Helga, and she pulls beautiful clips.
Thus I came into possession of a clipping hammer.
Fast forward a few weeks later. I am now part of the middle class, and we took the new guys out trimming for the first time. The new guy I was partnered with has been apprenticing a little, so he’s really good at dressing down and pulling shoes. We were talking about how I have a hard time cutting clinches and the method he uses to get it done. Apparently he uses a rubber mallet instead of his driving hammer.
A few days later, again I had completely forgotten about it, when he wandered into our shop and slipped a rubber mallet into my tool bucket. I asked, “to borrow?” He said he’s fixing to get another style that he like better, so I should just keep that one, see how I like it, and if it’s not my style, to just pass it on to someone else.
Thus I came into possession of a clinch-cutting mallet.
Back up a week again. Day of graduation. I had gone up to the shop early to help clean and set up. I was cleaning out the classroom when the director’s wife came and said when I had a minute, to see her in her office. I finished my cleaning, and then went in there. She sat me down and said basically, she talked about it with her husband, the director, and because they believe in what I’m doing (they know about Montana) they agreed to negate my April payment, which I was $1200 short for, and give it to me as a scholarship. I gave her a hug.
Thus I can continue here for another month.
But that’s not all. Just yesterday, I was having a really bad day. I’ve been practicing one-heat toe bends for four days, and all of a sudden, at noon on Friday, I ceased being able to get a symmetrical toe bend in one heat. I was tired, hangry, and frustrated, and I cried at my anvil until two o’ clock, still making and throwing down bad toe bends. I got a pep talk from everyone’s favorite instructor, and permission to go to lunch, which really helped, and I ended the day emotionally drained, with only a circle to show for all my effort and frustration.
Because I was so over everything when class let out, I left pretty quick to do my laundry and grocery shopping. I had to get out of there. My laundry went fine. My trouble started when I went to the grocery store. This first job I got here paid us on a prepaid debit card. I’m never agreeing to be paid like that again, but that’s beside the point. The point is, I had about $15.75 worth of groceries, about $10 on my pay card, and about $20 in my bank account. Or so I thought. First I made the mistake of trying to self-check out, and I fought with the machine, which only escalated my frustration. I had the attendant cancel everything so I could go to a real person. I went to a real cashier, and my pay card didn’t work. I had already withdrawn the bulk of my pay, because I didn’t trust the thing, but I really wanted that last $9. We tried several times, with my general state of exasperation rising with every failed attempt. Finally I lost patience and swiped my debit card.
Cashier said extremely delicately, “It says insufficient funds, if I may.”
I just started to cry again. I couldn’t help it. I’ve gotten it straightened out now how I overdrafted (and the bank forgave it because it’s the first time I’ve mad a mistake and I normally have my crap together), but at the time I couldn’t understand why it was having issues, because my own records indicated I had $20 in my checking account. I muttered to forget it, and tried to get the heck out of Dodge. The cashier was really trying to be nice, and he said they could hold my groceries for a few days. But he was holding up my escape, and all I could say was, “Forget it. Just forget it.” Then the lady behind me asked how much my bill was, and when the cashier told her, she paid for my groceries. That lady paid for my groceries. I totally lost it then. I think I thanked her twice, as coherently as I could, and then all but ran out of the door, feeling like a thief.
All of this to say: providence exists. With every hair-raising experience or need that’s suddenly resolved, I become more sure that this is where I need to be. It’s just like Wyoming.