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My apologies to the people I hurt by trying to help the people we helped.I must admit, I've learned my lesson. And, in the future, I'll remember the words "No good deed goes unpunished". If nothing else, it's going to go unnoticed...

When Ike hit us, I thought of all the people who were too old, too ill, too poor etc. to be able to afford to buy the generators that were being brought in by the opportunists who jumped at the chance to make a killing off the misfortune of people who had no choice but pay double or more for generators from these vultures.

After all, the Texas heat would take it's toll on old people who couldn't stand the heat... The people who had infants. The elderly. People with insulin or other medicine that had to be kept cold or ruin.

I got mad when I realized FEMA really did only stood for "Fix everything my ***". And, when our local government said there was nothing they were going to do to help the people who stayed, rather than heed their demands to evacuate, even if they couldn't afford to.

So, without consulting my business partner, or anyone else for that matter, I contacted [email protected] and [email protected] and told them that if anyone had a generator and needed help getting it going, to bring it by our business - South Park Cycle. And, I'd do what I could to get them going. And, as long as we didn't have to have any parts, there wouldn't be a charge for doing it.

I knew FEMA had provided a lot of them to people during Rita, and that they'd been sitting for three years and probably only needed minor cleaning or some other simple fix to get them going.

Without complaining about my lack of consideration for her stake in this business, my business partner jumped in and did everything she could to help the people who needed help. In spite of the fact she knew we were in a position where we needed to take care of the problems and damages we suffered our selves from the storm. We had our own people to take care of, our own damage, our own losses...

In no time, Al and Jim announced we were fixing generators for free. In even less time, we had people lined up around the block with generators that wouldn't start, or make electricity.

People asked if it was really free. And, I told them it was. I said if they had the resources to pay, and wanted to, they could drop some money in the kitty to help buy parts and offset our losses.

However, it was obvious some people were very poor, and there was no way we could take their money. There were however, people who were very fortunate, and had plenty resources. There were also people who had enough to go out and buy a brand new generator from someone off a truck, and did in fact do just that. However, some did not run, or make electricity when they got them home.

I honestly believed that while there would be no profit in what we did, there would be enough people who could afford whatever they wanted - the "haves" who would pitch in a little in order to offset the losses we took trying to help the "have nots".

Now, over a week later, I realize I was wrong.

Here's what I learned. Even though I was told this, and in spite of the fact I didn't want to believe it.

The "have nots" were elderly people who survive on a paltry social security check. They were also the people who tried to pitch a few dollars into the kitty. But, you can't take it if you're really trying to do a kind or benevolent thing. Once I told them there was no charge for fixing their generator, most thanked us. Some tried to pay us with some of their Social Security money, which we couldn't take. Some teared up and told us we were heroes, or angels. And, that all the good we were doing would come back to us.

When they did, there were times I had to go hide for a few minutes to regain my composure in order not to tear up myself. Then I went back to fixing generators. And, ignored my customers and other obligations.

Some of the old insisted we take a five, ten or sometimes twenty. They're "old school" people and have too much pride to take something for nothing. That money went straight into parts for other peoples generators.

Some of the people who brought their generators in were young enough to stand the Texas heat. And, could wait until the elderly, babies and people with medicine were taken care of first. But, I told them I'd take a look at their generator if they'd take their time to help some of the other people who really needed it. Or, they could work on them their selves and I'd show them what to do so they could go home and help fix their neighbors. Like the Chinese thing about teaching someone to catch a fish rather than just giving them one.

So, some of them did. And even pitched a ten or twenty into the kitty to boot. The best part was when they called us later to tell us what we showed them made them able to fix two or three more somewhere else.

Some had the resources to help, but never offered. Instead, telling us they'd be back tomorrow. To help, or bring food, or pitch in a little cash, which they acted like they'd left behind today.

We had some that came in and were for businesses, like the gas station two blocks from us or Omega -Alpha Building Services. Or, the guy who already had one, but wanted his spare one fixed free that he had in his garage and didn't want to pay to get fixed. But, heard we were fixing them free, and of course wasn't going to pass up a chance to get his old one going so he'd be able to sit in the hot tub or have a spare for the camp house at the lake. When I explained to them that I was taking care of the people who needed help the most first, they whined and asked us to put them ahead of everyone else. Or, told us they didn't mind paying, but didn't when we finally did get to theirs.

Some of the people with businesses told us they HAD to have theirs fixed now. Like Omega - Alpha building services, who couldn't run their vacuum cleaners without generators. And, were willing to pay anything to get theirs fixed. I told them they'd have to wait. My own business was losing money hand over fist. This wasn't after all, about money. It was about helping people.

In spite of this, their guy who delivered their generator told us how benevolent their boss was, and how they'd be very generous and help us in our effort. When we spent the money we'd been given on brushes, fuel line, filters, oil, gasoline, spark plugs etc. the thought of such a company pitching in to help made me believe that if we helped them, they'd return the favor and pay enough to buy some more materials. After all, they said they'd pay *anything*, so one might assume they'd appreciate what we did for them. So, I spent three hours working on their generator. In return for us helping them, they generously donated a whopping $15 dollars to our efforts. Never again will I fall for this. The "haves" must really "have", because they really are cheap and stingy.

The guy with the convenience store, who was selling $15,000 dollars a day worth of gasoline before the hurricane, and jacked the prices of everything else up after the hurricane never did get his generator fixed here. Of course, when he brought his generator here at 8pm and wanted it fixed ahead of everyone else, the first words out of his mouth were "Are you the guy fixing the generators - for FREE?". Because, he wanted it free.

So, all together, when it was all said and done, we literally fixed at least a couple hundred generators for people. Most needed them badly. Sometimes, I let them mislead me into thinking they were some of the needy ones, only to find out later they didn't really have anyone who was elderly, or babies, or medicine to take care of. They just wanted something for nothing. And, I suckered into giving it to them. Given the opportunity, I do have something else for them if they ever show back up. And, of course, it's free...

Some people were completely fair though. They were healthy, young and had the resources to pitch in. Not as many as there would have been if this hurricane would have hit 50 years earlier though. They pitched in twenty dollars or so in an effort to help pay for the materials we were buying. One man even pitched in $100 when we did some serious engine work to a brand new Coleman generator we fixed that his mother bought off a truck somewhere. Two people pitched in $40 to the effort. Only one donation to the kitty was over that, and that was the man who pitched in the $100.

A few broken generators were donated for parts. Two were donated that ran. One was one I fixed at the beginning of this. They managed to find a bigger one somewhere and had the heart and generosity to bring the smaller one to us to loan out to someone who really needed one. Another man brought one in after he got his lights back on to loan out, which we did. And, we never did anything for him. He, Marcus Magee, just honestly has a good heart, and wanted to help someone later. A few people brought in lawnmowers, but we discovered the parts we could use off them were limited due to being smaller engines than the generators.

In fact, a quite a few people showed they had good hearts. As you might imagine, or more likely in most cases, as you might not imagine, some, if not most of the people who made sacrifices - took time etc. were people one might not give a second glance. Unless, they lived in a gated community and had a fear of people who looked like they *didn't* live in a gated community..

Some people who I really expected to help - didn't. That's about all I have to say about that... I thought they were for sure the kind of people who toughened up and took hold of the reigns when the fertilizer hit the ventilator. I know for a fact they need to do some good for someone they don't know. I know that if they'd have seen some of the people who were really destitute tear up and tell them they were an angel or hero, it would have done something to, or for them, that no one can deny feels good.

One of our neighbors pitched in. He already had a generator. But, when he saw what we were doing, came over to help. In fact, he helped a lot. more than he should have. On his second tour in Iraq as a corpsman in the 2nd Rangers, he was shot in the knee while dragging a wounded Marine out of the street. After 21 years and 9 months in the U.S. Army, he was discharged. Then, like a lot of veterans, thrown back into civilian life to fend for their selves. If he were like most people, he'd have rested his knee while he watched out the window, which he indeed, should have been doing. But, he's one of the few out there who naturally spring into action when there's action. And, seriously overworked his knee helping people who probably wouldn't give him a ride if they saw him walking to the Laundromat on it. I don't have a lot of heroes. But, I'm having a hard time thinking of over a few people I know who I have as much respect for. If any.

Just a minute ago, I found out that his doctor's appointment for tomorrow has been postponed for two weeks. His meds run out in two days. The real, genuine war hero who actually did routinely put his own life in jeopardy, has been told he's on his own, without his medicine...

So, what have I learned from this? What will I do next time?

What I've learned is:

There really are haves and have nots. I already knew that. But, gave me more insight than I had before on it.

There are plenty of people in this country who don't have enough, and have no way of getting it. Unless, someone helps them. They're old, disabled, can't work, don't have family or have been forgotten by them...

They might get a small check from the government every month, and often have to do something to generate extra cash to pay for food or medicine, or rely on someone else to help, or do without.

There are others who don't have enough. But, that's because they'd rather not have to work. I get a little ticked off when I see them, and think of the people who can't.

There are plenty of people in this country who have a lot more then they need. And, they intend on getting as much more as possible, from any sucker willing to give it to them. And, they don't intend to give any of it to anyone. Unless, it's for a larger plasma screen than their buddy's. Cost, of course, is no object for something like that.

They're the people I hope I never become. People like the guy at the Amigo gas station who sneered at me for the last year when I gave him my business. Then, brought two generators to me at evening curfew and asked me to put him ahead of everyone else so I could have his ready in the morning. Of course, the first words out of his mouth were "Are you the guy fixing generators for free?". After all, he was missing a golden opportunity to do land office business. As if we weren't. Or, the woman at Omega - Alpha Building Services

There are a few people who have enough, or maybe even more than they need. But, see other people who need help and are willing to step up to the plate and help someone, for no reason at all. Other than to help someone. They must feel, or really believe, that what goes around does come around. There are very few though when you do the math... Which is sad. They're the "barn builder" types as I call them. A real, genuine dying breed. If people valued them as much as a spotted own or sea turtle, they'd be considered an endangered species. And, protected by the government. If I can't be like my neighbor with the bad knee, I'd at least like to be in this category. I feel they're good people who can look their selves in the mirror.

All together, they contributed a total of $345 over 8 days. Of that, we spent most on supplies. I think we have about $100 left over. And, that I should give that to the people who I put in this situation. If they don't take it, and I doubt they will. I'm going to give it to the neighbor, who's earned it a hundred fold before he ever laid hands on someone's generator. In fact, I've already tried, but he wouldn't take it. Somehow, he needs to get something for his effort. So, I'll figure out a way.

Even my ex-wife of 30 years, who has medical problems of her own helped as much as she could.

What will I do next time? Well, I'm trying to figure that out now. And, am open for suggestions, but I think I already know.

In spite of the people who tried to, or did take advantage of us, what we did for the people we really wanted to help, the ones who really needed help, was rewarding. Not financially, but definitely spiritually. Now, I'm not a religious person by any means. But, I am however a spiritual person. I believe that what goes around does indeed come around. Or, at least, that if you're not as good a person as you can be, that you can't whine when something does go bad. Maybe it's odd, but I feel that even if you are as good as you can be, whining isn't going to help anyway.

This week, I also heard the phrase "So heavenly bound, they're no earthly good". Amen.

Ironically, I heard it from someone who drove a new truck, but didn't have a five or ten to pitch into the kitty, even after major engine work to his generator, which went way beyond the "I'll fix it free if it's easy" promise I made to Al and Jim.

One of the people who took advantage of us was quick to let us know they donated big to their church. Of course, they walked away from this with something for nothing and left not a nickel. A definite "have" who must feel they can buy their way into heaven. When they had the chance to help, they skated out as fast as possible. But, these people we're helping don't go to *their* church. So, helping them probably wouldn't count when St. Peter goes to add up their contributions over their lives. This seems to be way too common. And, I feel they're in for a surprise later on, after life. I remember a story about a Christian family who risked their lives and freedom to protect a Jewish family during WW2. Later, they said "It was the Christian thing to do". If they still teach this in Church, I don't think many people are listening. Then again, that was the 1940's. So, I guess a lot has changed... Then again, I don't feel there's anything "right" about donating money to a church so a minister can drive a new car and live in a nicer house than the people who donate. Did I mention that I myself am an ordained minister?

OK, so you're thinking to yourself, "why are you whining about no one paying when you said you'd do it free?".

Well, first. I'm not whining about that at all. If anything, I'm beginning to realize the burden I put on my partner, friends and neighbor. They never bargained for any of this. And, didn't really need me to add to their problems. They just jumped in when I told Al and Jim I'd do a good thing and help people who our government, or their families had forgotten.

So, I apologize to them for thinking that if we helped the "have nots", the "haves" would come through and pitch in enough to offset the losses we incurred by doing so. I was wrong.

You see, at South Park Cycle we're not rich either. In fact, we work like hell top make the bills every month like a lot of other people. We don't get a check from the government and sit on our asses because we don't want to work. We don't have any sweetheart deals with any insurance companies that provide us with inventory at 40 cents on the dollar like our competitor on the North End side of town. We don't get anything from anyone that we don't work for... Harder than it seems you'd have to in fact.

Our expenses run over a couple of hundred dollars a day. That's *a day*. That's also without payroll. And, it's definitely before Becky or I see a nickel; So, for over a week, we ignored our own business and didn't take in a dime. It's hard to be everywhere at once, and we were trying to help our neighbors who might have died in the heat had we not had the good fortune of a cold front after Ike. I thought for sure it was going to be like Rita all over again, and hotter than ever. I could see old people suffering all over the place from the heat, and heard our government tell us that if we stayed, we were going to be doing it without ice, electricity, water or food. After all, they told us to leave. The fact that people were tapped out from the last time they cried wolf, and had no resources to leave again didn't seem to carry much weight.

So, we lost a couple of thousand dollars in time. We also lost whatever money we would have generated had we ignored the fact that people were suffering, or getting ripped off by the people who brought in junk generators at twice or more the price. Then, disappeared before people could discover they'd not only been gouged on the price, but the thing didn't even work when they got it home.

We did warranty work for the out of town gougers so the people they took advantage of could at least use what they'd been ripped off on when they bought it. We fixed a few for local companies like Orange County Building Material that should have either replaced the defective merchandise they sold or returned the people's money when the people who brought their brand new generator to us told us they were told they didn't have generators to replace theirs with, and weren't getting a refund, but there was a place in Beaumont that was fixing generators free.. Take them there.

The $100 or so that was left over is something I can't keep. Too many other people were indisposed due to my flare up of chivalry or need to be someone's hero. And, compared to what we'd have to have to make up for the lost time and income, it's only a drop in the proverbial bucket.

But, you know what? The next time there's a hurricane, I'm not leaving. And, if there are people who need help, and it looks like no one else is going to, I'm going to try to help them. We may have gotten behind a little because of this, but the fact that my partner stood by me, and that I met some very good people, outweighs the fact that I met some pretty worthless people, or that some of the people I thought I could count on weren't there when we needed them.

We'll recover from the financial loss. We'll get by just fine. We're tough people who work every day for a living and make every effort to be as fair as possible with our customers, even though some of them weren't too happy that we put some less fortunate people who were hurting ahead of getting their motorcycle going. We'll hopefully gain some new customers from the people who we helped or the ones who saw us trying to do a good thing. Even if not, we'll keep going.

We helped a couple of hundred people, and taught a couple of dozen or so how to help their selves, or their neighbors. Which, they'll remember for a long time to come. We're able to look ourselves in the mirror and know that when the time came to help people who really needed helping, we were there. That feels good.

And, that's just how it is.

Robert Mode - Co-Owner
South Park Cycle, LLC
1498 College St.
Beaumont, Tx. 77701
(409) 835-3900 ~ (888) 83-CYCLE
 

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GOD BLESS you and your friends Robert !!!
Special prayers for you all.
 

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I can't figure if your whinning? Looking for free advertisement? Or if your truely saddened by peoples morals?
I hope its the morals.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
not advertising. just a notation of how people react to a situation. i didnt realize the business name was there but wanted to add his name so it would not be thought of as hearsay or made up.
 

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tiger said:
I can't figure if your whinning? Looking for free advertisement? Or if your truely saddened by peoples morals?
I hope its the morals.
Peoples morals will often sadden and shock us ....there's nothing new about that is there? I think maybe he just needed to get it off his chest (so to speak) and there's nothing wrong with that. Sometimes when we're tired and disappointed we need an outlet to just get us down the road. One of the best things we can do for people in times like these is to just listen. No comments, judgements, comebacks, or anything of that nature. Just listen and show kindness.

I think he did a marvelous thing and I know it will not come back void. I'm sorry he experienced the down side of doing that but I'm not surprised. I pray he finds that it comes back in such a way that his cup is pressed down and full to running over with blessings.
 

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Okay, maybe he is "whining", but I think he is "whining" about the current state of moral decay in this country. Offer something free and people will come out of the woodwork to get some, even if they don't need it and maybe can't even use it! He's right, the haves got what they have by thinking only of themselves and nobody else. I think he is 100% on the mark here.

Take a look at the current state of the economy and you will see that we didn't get here from people helping people, no matter what the advertisements say. We got here from people greedily helping themselves.

As for him "advertising" his business, I think it is an integral part of the story, to show he's not just some yahoo who offered to fix gen sets. He was showing that he is a "good corporate citizen" in his community.

I applaud your efforts! Even though you did run into some jerks you kept going.
 

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I heard Al talking about you and I thought man, that guy is gonna get hammered by the public! It was a great thing that you did. I know you had to dig deep into your own pocket to do this. Can I donate to help offset some of your expenses?
 

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Its a good read but any body over 50 could have told you how the out come would be.

I commend you for you efforts and generosity, you and your crew - more so your crew who jumped in to help you out .

what can you say people are people, some good as gold, some come straight out of hell.
 

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Dude you did a good thing and there is always some one who will take advantage of a situation. There is a differance between need and greed and I have seen alot of greed in the last 2 weeks and its sad.
 

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Great post, you did the right the thing. there are always going to be people who try and take advantage of others when they are trying to do the right thing. They'll get theirs, i strongly beleive that. God Bless.
 

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tiger said:
I thought you were speaking of you and not another sorry for the confusion.
I read the story completely and could easily see it was about others, what part of the of his thread made you think it was just about him? I applaud his efforts, he is "true grit"!
 

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I'm not a big believer of Karma in this world. Too many bad people seem to prosper while too many good people seem to be hurting. Maybe there will be justice in the next world though, I don't know. In this world, I think that the best we can hope for is that we go to sleep knowing we did the right thing and help to make the world a better place, something the selfish and greedy can never experince.

There's a great line, "All that it takes for evil to triumph in this world is for enough good men to do nothing". There is definately enough "evil" in this world, and in that, I would definately include those who having been profiting in legal yet immoral business practice or those who jacking prices in the wake of a disaster. You, your neighbor, and countless others who have chosen not to do nothing, but instead to help others after Ike, Gustave, and Dolly are what is keeping evil from triumphing in this world. God bless you sir.
 

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I had a business and I wasn't great on some decisions and methods. In fact I kept it open longer than I should have because it gave people who worked for me more time to get something else to do. While in business I was able to help churches, museums, chambers of commerce and others.

My own church who was given free services fired me and went to some provider who did their thing and outsourced the things I did. They paid money for that. I was never asked for some of the things they needed and was never told of the things they perceived as problems so I could fix them. That was mostly ignorance on the part of an iron fist pastor who didn't understand what he was given for free nor that the guy giving it was a member of his flock. Why the rest of the church didn't fix this I don't know. I did it all pretty low profile and members may not have known that we were doing something for free.

Of all the non-profits whom I gave free services I don't remember any who said they were sorry we were going out of business and none seemed to be grateful for anything. I got all of the kind sentiments from paying customers!

That said it was not the free services that killed my business it was big companies with new technology that I could not afford.

In the end, regardless of who appeared grateful God was watching. I have been through financial hell ever since then, around 7 years and have another big hurdle to get over and then I can say my family has recovered form all of that. 7 is God's number. maybe something great will happen this year. Maybe it will happen at a meeting with St. Peter. I have learned to be patient. And oh yea, I am 51. The guy's comment about folks over 50 understanding things is dead on. It takes that long to see the really big picture and get over cynicism.
 

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I hope Robert kept the names & addresses of the folks he helped out. Send them all this letter. The ones that did right will know & the ones who didn't will too!
 

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dang, alpha and omega is a real company in beaumont too. suprised the left that name real as well....... lol. I like the write up though.
 

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Good example

tx-fisherdude said:
Dude you did a good thing and there is always some one who will take advantage of a situation. There is a differance between need and greed and I have seen alot of greed in the last 2 weeks and its sad.
Someone told me about an individual and his wife that have been running to the free Fema giveaways all over and getting the cases of MRE'S then taking them home and selling them on Ebay, He told me where the guy was from and I checked it on Ebay and sure enough there he was getting about $60 a case.
They need to arrest the guy and his wife both.
 

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There are always people who abuse the system. Our system works because most people are honest and hard working. When that stops being the case, our system will fail. I.E. Enron, Savings & Loans, AIG (sub-prime loans), etc...
 
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