Without a furnace to heat it, the temperature in her home had dropped to 50°F. But with her handyman husband away on deployment, Bridget Stevens wondered how she would put things right.
It was January 2016, and Bridget had returned home to the house near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, that she shares with her husband, Bobby, and their two young sons. However, she soon discovered that not all was well.
“I felt that it was freezing in here,” she said in an interview with ABC News, “So I checked the thermostat and saw that it was only 50°F in the house.”
Normally, she would have turned to the practical Bobby for help solving the problem. But he was out of town – deployed on foreign shores with the National Guard.
Stuck alone in a cold house, Bridget sent a text to Bobby, asking for help. But when he was unable to guide her through it, she realized that she would have to call a repairman – and face the inevitably sizable bill.
With nowhere else left to turn, she picked up the phone and dialed the number of Betlyn Heating and Cooling in Moon Township, P.A. Owner Paul Betlyn was on the other end of the line.
“[He] was very patient as he walked me through different things to do to try and get it back on,” Bridget explained in a post on her Facebook page. “When none of that worked, he said he needed to come to the house to fix it.”
The 65-year-old Betlyn, who has been in the repair industry for more than 30 years, came out in person to get the job done – even though he should have been taking it easy. “I’m not supposed to be doing work,” he said. “I just had a knee replacement.”
Despite not being in peak physical condition, Betlyn soon got to work with his tools, hunting down the source of the problem. And while he was working, he and Bridget got to chatting.
She explained that, under normal circumstances, she wouldn’t have had to make the call. “You know my husband really would have probably been able to figure this out,” she had told Betlyn, “but he’s just been deployed.”
Bridget’s plight reminded Betlyn of the stories his grandfather used to tell about life during the Great Depression. As a milkman, Betlyn’s forebear had often encountered mothers who couldn’t afford to buy the milk that their babies so desperately needed.
Believing in the importance of helping others, Betlyn’s grandfather would leave the milk on the table free of charge. And, almost a century later, Betlyn decided to take a leaf out of his grandfather’s book.
The situation had struck a chord with him. “When I heard about Bridget and her husband being deployed,” he said, “I put the milk on the table.”
When Betlyn had finished fixing the furnace, he began to write out the bill on a slip of paper. Bridget, meanwhile, was concerned about how much the service was going to cost.
But when Betlyn handed her the bill, she couldn’t believe her eyes. The repairman had added a special “deployment discount” – which brought the grand total to just $1.
“I was completely overwhelmed and in shock when Paul handed me the slip,” Bridget said. “I didn’t really know what to say, and I still have a hard time finding the words to truly express my appreciation.”
As she went on to explain in her Facebook post, even the $1 cost was meant as “a joke.” Betlyn’s intention was to complete the work for free as a gesture of thanks to her husband and his service.
Since Bridget shared the experience online, her story has gone viral. And although the Facebook post in question has since been deleted, the tale of one man’s generosity has reached media outlets around the world – with plenty of readers stepping in to share their thoughts.
Commenters on the ABC News website praised Betlyn for his kindness and generosity, stating that his behavior was something that everyone should aspire to. The Daily Mail website, meanwhile, attracted comments from individuals who had themselves been deployed overseas and were glad that there are people like Betlyn watching over the families left behind.
Betlyn himself has been dismissive of all the praise he has received.“The deployed, they’re the heroes,” he said. “I’m not the hero here.” There are, though, quite a few people who would take issue with that particular statement.