Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Kindness of Strangers

With less than 7 days until D(ivorce)-Day, it's probably no surprise that I'm in the mood to reflect. I was reminded today of just how generous and kind people can be to a relative stranger, and how meaningful the little things can be to someone who feels like she's drowning in bigger things.

As part of the terms of my divorce, I'm keeping my house but have to refinance in order to get the mortgage into my name only. I met with my mortgage broker (who helped my ex and I when we purchased the house 3 years ago) last month to start the process, explaining the circumstances so that she'd understand how the divorce timeline would impact the closing date. I expected the typical niceties - "I'm so sorry to hear that", etc. - but instead what I got was the most surprising show of support from a relative stranger that I've seen yet. Her exact words were, "I've been there. It gets better." It was nothing I hadn't heard before, but that it came from someone I barely knew - someone who went out of her way to share a little of herself and say something comforting when she really didn't need to - meant so much. It still brings tears to my eyes as I write this.

She surprised me again when we met to discuss my loan options. She knew the divorce lawyer and refinance fees left me financially strapped (she had all my financial information at her fingertips, after all), and gave me a discount on her commission. Again, I was surprised and, of course, appreciative. And then today she sent me an email to let me know that she sat on hold with the bank for an hour to get my rate down another 0.125%, even though it meant she would take a hit on her commission. This woman had spent another hour of her time trying to help me even though it was going to cost her money in the end. I was genuinely touched. For some reason I still can't quite put my finger on, it reassured me that everything was going to work out just fine.

Throughout the whole process of my separation and divorce, one of the things I've feared most was being judged for my choices. It terrifies me that people will look at me and think that I'm a quitter, or cold-hearted, or worst, a failure. My fears aren't unfounded; I'm sure there are plenty of people who have judged me along the way. But I also learned two things that are much more valuable. First, that there are at least as many people who will set judgment aside and exhibit more kindness and generosity that I could ever hope for. And even more importantly, it really does get better.




The last thing I want is for this post to read as a shameless plug for my mortgage broker. However, I really can't say enough good things about her. She's professional, competent, and I think you can probably see that she'll go well beyond what's required of her to help out her customers. Anyone in the Austin, Texas, area who would like her name, please feel free to leave me a comment with your email address here, or DM me on twitter (@erinmcclelland), and I'll be happy to send it to you.

2 comments:

Caroline said...

Great post! Your broker sounds like a great person. It is always great to hear about these kinds of things. Nice people - she might not know how important those words and gestures meant to you - a real simple act of kindness so rare these days. Reminds me how important we are and what we say, do or don't say or do in seemingly simple encounters can have a profound effect on people. Thanks for sharing Erin. xo it does get better.

rachelintheoc.com said...

I haven't been divorced so I can't relate there, but I did have to short sell my house of 14 years last year so I've been through that hell. To be honest I'm pretty happy that we're just on a lease and I can just call Fred the Handyman when the dishwasher, the oven, and the toilet all break. Which they have.

But I digress.

I married a man who had been divorced, no kids. His marriage lasted about 4-5 yrs. It just wasn't right. Did he feel as if he had failed? No. He kept telling himself that something about it just wasn't right. He said he felt in his heart that there was "his Rachel" out there after he saw the movie BLADERUNNER (don't cue the Twilight Zone music quite yet).

When we met, we immediately discovered that BLADERUNNER was our mutual fave movie (now you may cue the music). We were engaged in 3 mos & married 5 mos after that. The "Love Theme" from the movie was our first song. We've been married 18 years.

When it's right, baby, it's right.

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