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Brenda has been writing since grade school. She attended journalism school where she majored in professional writing. She loves to decorate, garden, read and spend time with her Yorkies.

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Moment Of Truth

Well, yesterday I worked and I worked on the coffee table/beast. And I was able to chip teensy tiny pieces of wood off the top. I'm certainly not at the point when I'm feeling elated because I'm almost there. 

Because I'm clearly not almost there. And now I've got gouges on the top where my putty knife went too deep when I was trying to get that last thin stubborn layer to come up.

So I told myself: "There's got to be something better than this."

And so I got in touch with Darrielle of D.D.'s Cottage & Design, who gives new life to old furniture every week. 

She called me, telling me what she would do. She informed me that I needed a tougher grit (is that what they call it? Grit?) of sandpaper, in the sander I borrowed from my neighbor Charlie. 

And if all else failed, she said, to go buy some backer board, which they would cut to size. She said it would cover the nicks and small pieces of wood I can't seem to get up. And I could paint a smooth surface.

Sounded like a miracle.

So I wrote all this down and headed to Lowes. I tromped in my boot all the way down to lumber and asked for assistance. 

"Backer board? Never heard of it," the man behind the counter said. I told him that my friend used it all the time. He said call your friend and ask her if there's another name. "Cause the only backer board I know of is for tile."

I told him she's in California and I didn't have her number. 

I was losing all hope. The beast was besting me. I was hot, tired, hurting, confused. I walked around the store and asked a few more male workers just for the pure heck of it, thinking I might get lucky, but they'd never heard of it either. 

I told them it was to put over a surface that you couldn't get perfect. That you couldn't sand down all the way, or had nicks and cuts from trying to get through layers of veneer with a putty knife and a hammer. 

A Lowes worker stood and looked at me. "Bagger board, ya say?"

"NO! BACKER board."

"Never heard of it."

Just about at my wit's end, I said: "Well, seems to me someone would invent something you could use in situations such as this," and I turned around and went to find the sandpaper. 

I stood in line with my sand paper behind a couple with all kinds of patio furniture. The clerk didn't get the price right, and they were telling her it was on sale. Clearly it was going to take awhile and there wasn't another lane open.

On a whim, I stalked off to find the sanders. First man I saw in that proximity who looked knowledgeable, I asked what kind of sander I should buy. And I told him my predicament. 

I think my voice was edging higher and higher the more frustrated I got. I must have looked like someone on the edge of the last stretch of road. 

He was probably in his forties. "Well, I'm a contractor," he said. "And you just come with me, darlin.' Cause I'm gonna take care of you and fix ya right up." 

I nearly wept right then and there. 

He led me to the sanders. He said not to get the expensive Dewalts. 

"Because every night I'd go home from a construction site, and the next morning someone would have stolen those things," he told me. 

He pointed to a cheap Black & Decker, $35. He said: "This is what I use now. Cheap, just as efficient." 

Then he told me to follow him a few aisles over to the sand paper.

He pointed to the various choices. "Now this one here will do the rough stuff. Then you take this other one and smooth her up," he said. He handed the two packages to me.

His voice was so kind.

I thanked him profusely for his help. I paid for it. Added a two year warranty for $6. Got in my car. 

And the moment of truth lay before me. I'd spent a long day chiseling away at the beast. I was hungry. I was very touched by the stranger's kindness. Not to mention patience.

I put the key in the ignition. I felt a bit of guilt, of failure, as I drove through a nearby restaurant and ordered a grilled chicken sandwich. First meat I've had in weeks. I just couldn't handle another bean-burrito-hold-the-cheese, and I was simply too tired to stand in the kitchen, period. 

I just wanted to eat something of substance and take a nice long bath and let my frustration run down the drain.

Ya know, sometimes life just sucks it all out of you. And it doesn't have to be anything of great magnitude that tips the scales. Not life and death stuff. 

It's just the little things that have all screeched to a halt, and suddenly piled up on top of one another like a freight train of cars that couldn't stop.

It's the heat and my ankle and trying to work with a diet and buying a simple little coffee table that I was just sure I could wash up, sand down a little, and slap some paint on. 

It's the sometimes irritating, small day-to-day events that begins to wears you down, bit by bit. 

His voice was so kind.

Till you find yourself driving home with a chicken sandwich you had absolutely no intention of buying, trying to see the road through your tears just because a man was so nice to you. 

Because I can't recall any man ever saying to me, "Darlin, I'm gonna take care of you." 

And that's all it took to make me fold. 

So now I've had my morning cereal and cup of coffee and I'm getting ready to open the box with the sander, and see if I can make some headway today. 

And hope the train stays on the track. 
Brenda Pruitt
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  1. It makes my heart sing that there are still nice people out there. I was thinking of something called underlayment. Not sure if it is the same thing?

  2. I think Angels come to us in may shapes and forms and this man was one to you. Hang in there and sand that table down!!

  3. I heartily agree on the "Angels on Earth"!!! All best luck!

  4. I made the comment on a post 2 days ago: you need TWO cups of coffee, then to battle!

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  6. Kindness matters. Glad you encountered some from both Darrielle and the gentleman in the store. :)

  7. As everyone else is saying, there are angels on earth!

  8. He sounds like a kind man, Brenda. Sorry you had such a rough day,,,sometimes things pile up and get overwhelming...with me it usually means I need to eat something. And I admire you for sticking to it...I take the lazy way and put a new piece of wood on top and cover it all up.

  9. Awww,what a nice guy! I think I would make a call to his manager and tell him/her about your purchase.

    1. He didn't work there. He was just a building contractor in there shopping.

    2. I think that makes it all the more likely that he was "an angel in disguise"! I love it when that happens. Looking forward to hearing all about your future sanding projects. Hang in there!

  10. I had to chuckle, I think we have all been there at some point, look forward to seeing your new table! Just think of all the things you can do with your new sander.... Good Luck.

  11. Now that you have a sander, you can sing, to yourself, "I am woman, hear me roar".. There'll be no stopping you now.
    So happy that the man was so kind to you. Really makes one feel good ! The heck with all the rest of the men who didn't know what you were talking about.
    Finishing that "sweet" ? little table is really testing your "stick-to-it" ability. I'm betting on you, Brenda, to win this one.

  12. Heck! You should've asked that nice man if he was single! LOL! He sounds like a good one. I'm so glad that you were able to get some help with this project. I've heard of backer board too and it's used for a tile backsplash. Hope your project is going more smoothly today.

  13. Oh, I hope the train stays on track for you too, Brenda. It does sound like a frustrating experience, and I'm so glad that sweet fellow was kind enough to help you. Good luck with your table top!

  14. Oh my gosh Brenda...heart wrenching, honestly...

    Why on earth didn't they just sell you a very thin piece of inexpensive board and cut it to fit, you could have glued it on, sanded it a bit, and slapped that paint on it.

    What a kind, kind brings us those tiny moments of saving grace when we most need them...he was yours.


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  16. All this time I keep thinking, haven't I read somewhere that you can paint laminate? Too late for that now, but if you need the info for future, here's the link to Centsational Girl's tutorial:


  17. Since we've bought this stuff for The Project, the first comment called it...underlayment would be correct. We do often refer to it as "backer board", tho, and I can't believe they didn't know what you were talking about! But I can relate, having been to these home centers looking for help. Some of them don't seen to know a board from a brick. Hope the sander does the job! Good luck!

  18. I'm thinking it's called Door Skin, comes in 1/8" and 1/4"???

  19. It just takes one nice person. :)

  20. Kindness sometimes is all it takes and you found that at Lowes!!!!! I love to read your posts and how wonderful you bring your experience to us in your writing. My heart was with you as I read. So happy you got a good sander and will attempt the beast once more. You are no quitter and that is fabulous. Good luck. I think backer board is also mdf they probably would have know what mdf is. Glad Darrielle could help too.

  21. After sanding, if you still have gouges in the top, please try wood filler. (Borrow some from Charlie). It really works, doesn't have to be perfect, fill it in and smooth around it and let it thoroughly dry. Next day if it isn't flat, just sand it all smooth - a piece of cake, Brenda.You can do it!

  22. I hope the train stays on the track today, Sweet Friend. If people only realized the power of their words, both good and bad, the world could be a much kinder and gentler place. xo Laura

  23. Wishing you strength as you once again attempt to tame the beast....I know you will be the victor, and I can't wait to see the spoils!

  24. I'm so glad an angel came your way, I've had that happen several times.
    Something I did once when paint was not going to work, I bought enough of those self stick floor tiles and used them. It turned out pretty nice.

  25. I am glad you found someone to help you. That's pretty good advice. I usually buy the deWalt now, but I used to buy B & D all the time. You are not going it give it the heavy usage that a contractor would, so you don't really need the expensive tools. That's very interesting that he gets his tools stolen all the time. I wonder what works on or where that such a thing would happen. Although... I have been hearing about this more and more. Sad sign of the times, isn't it? But at least the man was nice to you and you will be able to get that table smoothed out.

  26. Glad you found a helper, even though he wasn't a store employee. I second what a previous commenter said about wood filler. I took a veneer off a trash-picked table a few years ago and it was really divoted up by the time it came off. I bought wood filler and spackled that all over, let it dry, then sanded the whole table top down smooth. A couple coats of paint and you can't even tell. Hope things go smoothly for you from here!

  27. What a wonderful man!!! That was so kind of him to help you out like that. Show that there are still gentlemen and that there is hope for our society! And sometimes, you just have to eat meat! :-) Hope today was better with the beast!! Hugs to you my sweet friend!!

  28. Why is it that a few small words can make us feel so good? A few years ago, during one of the big ice/snow storms, I found myself stuck, on an uphill street, about the 4th car back at a light. I could not get my Blazer to move forward. I was just a tad too far back and my tires just spun and spun. I had my youngest girl with me and didn't want to appear upset, but I was really upset. Cars would just pass by me when it was clear of on-coming traffic, and there I sat, still trying to get up that hill. Laura was looking at all of the cars behind us and said, "Mom, there's a cowboy walking up the street." Sure enough, here comes this man, in a duster and cowboy hat, walking up the middle of the street. He knocked on my window and asked what the problem was, so, without crying, I told him. That cowboy, that sweet, sweet man, smiled the biggest smile, opened my door and said, "Darlin', just pop this girl into 4-wheel drive." To this day, I still wish I could find that man and let him know what those few words meant to me. Take care, Brenda. It will work out like you want.

  29. Hi Brenda, well it is such a grand blessing when someone nice can help and really be interested enough to care and show you the right tool. So glad you found that nice man to help. It was worth having the meat in the end. I think you needed the protein after all the aggravation you had over the table.
    Hey, to my surprise I just saw my shop link in an ad here on your blog. How kind of you to add me. I am so honored. Thank you so very much.
    Have a great weekend and don't stress about the table. It will be awesome when complete.

  30. Is there a reason you didn't just use (Formby's, my favorite) paint remover? That would have saved your veneer and sanity. Hopefully you'll be able to salvage the leg and drawer. I have a Black and Decker palm sander. Love it. It has the dust catcher on it but I don't use it on big projects, outdoors. Once I get started sanding, I don't want to stop to empty it. You'll be happy with your table when it's sitting in your living room looking pretty. :-)

  31. It is good to know there are still kind people in this world.

  32. Young guys would be afraid to say darlin. It's a different world. They'll be accused of being sexist pigs. It's sad this the world we've created. Young men are afraid to hold a door open for women too. What was once a well mannered man is now accused of being a dominating sexist pig. Spend time on any college campus youngs guys don't know how they should act. I worked in the classes for woman studies. Guys were taking it because they were so confused about what's expected or acceptable for them now a days.

    1. Seems like I recall a post here several months ago complaining about that very trait in a man. haha

  33. Brenda, I'm so glad this gentleman suggested a sander for you. You will love it! My husband bought me a B & D years ago (I kept using his). Now even he uses mine because it's lightweight and does a great job. You will conquer this beast!

  34. Brenda, God knows just what we need and when we need it it a nice man helping choose sandpaper or that chicken sandwich. I hope everything is better, today.

    Grace & Peace.

  35. You are certainly getting more than you bargained for with this table. I hope it turns out the way you envision and is worth it!

  36. You have the best reader/friends. I was going to say, with sarcasm, why would you bother with this table? Then I read the first positive comments and scolded myself, why would I say something snappy or unkind? Rather focus on the helpful man...I know you will make a silk purse out of this sow's ear!

  37. You might enjoy this article

  38. My husband works for the "other" Home fix it place and he knew what you were talking about. He was surprised that they didn't. Thank heaven for the kind stranger. He's the type of person you want to ask for some of his business cards and pass them out to people that need a contractor. Good luck on your table Brenda. I'm sure you'll do great now that you have been pointed in the right direction.

  39. If I had heard those words "I'll take care of you"....I would have instantly melted into a puddle of tears.
    Now the challenge of your beastly table will have new meaning for the words of a kind soul will keep you inspired. Your finished table will be beautiful and it will forever be a remembrance of a gentleman who 'took care of you'.

  40. That's so sweet and so kind.
    Over the last couple of years, I've met some of the most helpful people in those kinds of places.

  41. Girl, you are needing some better protein in your diet. that's the honest truth!. Eat some grilled skinless chicken and good fish, and forget about "dieting". Lean meat (in small portions) veggies, and some natural fruit. your brain needs protein to think and build strong cells. Just leave off the sugar and breads and processed foods and you'll be in a much better place. Secondly, I would have called it MDF. "medium density fiberboard", it's pressed wood and it's saved my behind many times. You can't stain it, but you can paint it and it works great, especially over a bad surface. And Brenda, there are some really nice guys out there, I promise!

  42. I was on the verge of tears today to because someone was kind to me. it so rarely happens anymore as single older women. Something I thought was hopeless they made easy and gave me hope also restoring my faith in people !! We are usually laughed at, ignored and never appreciated or taken seriously. So someone like that, perhaps he was your angel when you needed him most. I wish I had his number to thank him! Now that you have a proper sander, look out! I see many new projects in your future! OMG you will be a sanding like a professional won't you before to long ?? Love the post, the dove is so gorgeous.

  43. Bean burritos al Fresca from Taco Bell are my only eating out food on my food plan to when I need food out. I to am beyond sick of them and applaud your treating yourself!

  44. Whew I am so glad you found an angel in that store! :)

    What a day :(

  45. Brenda, this reminds me of the old saying, something like,,, it is not how high the mountain but the pebble in the shoe.

  46. What else can I say but a BIG thank you to a nice guy for helping just never know what a difference you might make in somebody's day with a few kind words..Now show that table who's the

  47. I agree what some of the others have said, an angel in the form of a contractor, came onto your path today. Enjoyed reading your post, Brenda.
    P.S. Like the new look of your blog!

  48. It sounds like he was a "meant to be" encounter. I am not sure my blood pressure could go higher (just shy of a medical emergency) anywhere other than a hardware store. I feel like everything is written in another language, and that the people who work there aren't very patient. He was a kind man, but I think it is sad that there aren't more like him. Hope you're conquering your table.... you've persevered more with this project than I would have. I throw the towel in too easily! haha!

  49. I loved this post, Brenda. For so many reasons. LOVED it!


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