Rain, Tar and Smiles

by Karen Gurney
Tempe, Arizona

Rain, Tar and Smiles

Not long ago, I stopped at a store after visiting my brother. Walking down the aisle a young woman touched me on the shoulder to get my attention and asked, “How is your roof?” It took me a minute to realize who she must be. She was a stranger who had come and worked in the wind and the rain to help me save my roof.

I live in an older home near Phoenix, which I share with my oldest brother and my 82-year-old mother. In late summer we have what we call our “Monsoon Season”. These summer storms can frequently be violent, with substantial downpours often accompanied by gale-force winds.

Two years ago, I was home one afternoon when a summer storm came up. I heard a loud noise from the front of the house and ran to see what had happened. The wind had suddenly peeled the roofing material back from the front of the roof. My brother and I climbed up to see what we could do. The wind was so strong that we had to use our body weight to keep the roof from being pulled back further.

In the meantime, Mom was on the phone frantically trying to find someone to help us. Before long, a couple of vehicles pulled into the driveway. Out piled my two teenage nieces and some teenagers I didn’t know. They climbed onto the roof and asked what needed to be done. We explained that, despite winds of over 50 miles per hour, we needed to get the roofing material back down and anchored before the rain came.

Everyone lined up side by side, grabbed hold of the edge of the roofing material and started walking it back down to the front edge of the house. While some of us held it, the others scrambled to carry concrete blocks up a ladder to the roof.

By this time, my other brother and my nephew had joined us with wet/dry tar and brushes so we could patch the tears. Since there weren’t enough brushes for everyone, the kids looked around and came up with makeshift brushes — mostly small branches — and everyone got busy patching.

The rain was pouring down but we were able work fast enough to keep it out of the house. When the kids were done, they were soaked to the skin and had smears of tar all over them. But they were laughing and happy to have done something good, and gotten it done in time.

Now when I hear about teenagers who aren’t motivated and don’t care about others, I know of a group who doesn’t fit that stereotype. It makes me feel good to know that these average teenagers would go out of their way at a moment’s notice to help someone they didn’t know.

Originally published as HeroicStories #239 on Sep 27, 2001

1 thought on “Rain, Tar and Smiles”

  1. I keep those HeroicStories articles which I find really appealing or strike a positive chord in me and this one certainly does that! (The trouble is to decide when one doesn’t, because the list of the ones that I keep is now so big!!) So many thanks Leo for so much excellent work in this series, as well as the heap of tech stuff which you do as well!! RJ.


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