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LARSON: Friends' feedback hits nail on the head

The Beatles line "I get by with a little help from my friends" rang true recently when I was trying to change the banner over the fireplace. As I lifted the rod, a masonry nail pinged across the floor. Try as I might, I could not find it anywhere.

A few days later when I had the carpet cleaned, I asked the cleaners to keep an eye out for it, but it never showed up. My husband searched his workshop for a spare nail but there was none to be had. It looked like my only choice was to pay $10 for a three-pound box. Then I thought of something else. Why not turn to the Internet to see if a friend might have just one nail to spare? Since I do e-mailings for both my church and my neighborhood, I sent out a plea to both groups.

The first responder was Mike Levengood, a good friend who's always eager to help. But he's a lawyer. I'd never thought of him as a handyman. But when I opened the e-mail, I saw that my lawyer friend was offering not a nail, but advice.

"If you don't find any, I recall that the old Smith Ace Hardware store in Decatur would sell nails per piece. You might ask the Ace Hardware store in Mountain Park to see if they have them by the pound rather than by the box."

Maybe, I thought, but in the meantime, several more e-mails appeared from friends who were pretty sure they had a nail "somewhere." Then my son Ian called from Tucker to let me know he did indeed have one in his hand as he spoke.

"Can you pop it in the mail for me in case any of these other offers fall through?" I asked.

For the rest of the day, I received about a dozen regrets from friends telling me that the one nail they thought was "somewhere" actually was not. But my neighbor Jeanne Pescitelli echoed Levengood by adding, "You could probably go down to Ace Hardware and tell them your story and they would gladly contribute the one nail."

Well, I did have one coming in the mail, but just out of curiosity, why not see what Ace Hardware might do?

"Yes, I think we have a broken box somewhere. Let me check," the clerk said. When he handed me one masonry nail, I asked what it cost.

"Just take it," he said. "In fact, here, take a couple extra in case it ever pops out again."

With my banner hung, I reread the 13 e-mails from friends trying to help. And the 14th one from Hilda Taylor, a retired teacher down the street.

"I don't have one, but I wish I did. It feels good to get such a neighborly request."

Even without the nail, I'd still say this venture in cyberspace yielded a Net gain.

Susan Larson is a Lilburn resident. E-mail her at susanlarson4@yahoo.com.