Yesterday, I was working on a machine when there was a lull in the day, and I was on the phone with Paul. He was driving somewhere, and we had drifted off in conversation to a place of future plans, making a better life for ourselves (we have a great life, but we're talking about the big, giant life plans, here).
I hung up the phone when a customer came in, a young lady looking very distraught, and carrying her sewing machine. Donna pointed her in my direction.
She set her machine on the counter, and immediately told me she doesn't speak much English, but she would try. Actually, she spoke pretty good English.
She explained to me that she was sewing on her machine and knocked it backward. It hit the table, and something hit her bobbin winder. The hand wheel wouldn't turn and the bobbin winder was stuck.
I could tell she was very tense about it, and really upset. I reassured her that the machine would be okay, and that it wasn't permanent damage.
Near tears, she explained to me that her whole family is still in Venezuela, and she came here to make money to send home to them, as they are in struggling times. She literally sews on her machine every single day. She does a lot of alterations and creative jobs for people.
It was so hard for her to leave her machine, even though it wasn't working properly. I promised her I would look at it today.
I went home last night and told Paul about it. The irony struck me that we were in the midst of a conversation about all the ways we can improve our life, our business, our success. And here was Francys, trying to do the same for her family. She couldn't have been a nicer girl, either.
Her machine haunted me all night. I think it's pretty typical for anyone that loves their craft, that even when they are confident, knowledgeable, and skilled to still be anxious or stressed about doing a repair. But it felt like so much more was riding on this machine.
I couldn't get to her machine until late this afternoon because I had several meetings. But I finally got to pull out her machine and take a look. All my guesses were correct, and in about two hours, her machine was up and running again. I called her immediately and left a message.
Within an hour, Francys was in the shop and excited to see her working machine. We spoke briefly about the machine and laughed about our translation issues.
In fact, she's been working on getting my name right. When she finally figured out "Andi", she said, "Oh, like Toy Story!" That is a moment I'll never forget.
After she paid for her machine, she said she was so grateful and that because I helped her get back to work so quickly she had a gift for me. She pulled out a card with 5 pairs of earrings that she made herself. There was a nice handwritten note that said, "Made with Love, by Francys".
I could just tell this was a huge weight off of her shoulders. I could tell she lost sleep, wondering if her means for making a living to send money to her family would be hindered without a machine.
I was nearly moved to tears, and this whole experience is one I'll never forget. There are so many reasons why I love what I do, but this one is right up there. I often say that sewing machines have literally saved and changed lives. Francys and her efforts for her family are a true testament to that, and true inspiration to me and my family.