It’s not pretty, but it’s getting the job done.
An 82-year-old man resolved a long-running fight with officials in his small Spanish town last week, after he took matters into his own hands and built a public bench so his ailing wife can rest on their daily walks.
Manuel Souto and his wife Maria, 79, had pleaded with councillors for a year to get a bench installed along their morning route through A Estrada, a small town in northeastern Spain. The Soutos walk the route every day but Maria’s osteoarthritis has made it an increasingly difficult journey, and there was nowhere for her to sit and rest along the way.
Manuel eventually gave up on asking the town to fix the problem. He found a shop along the route that would give him a space for the bench. Then he bought some wood and went to work.
“The bench took me about half an hour,” the former lathe operator told the La Voz de Galicia newspaper. “It was just a matter of sawing and nailing, and I finished almost straight away.”
Manuel installed the bench overnight and surprised Maria with it the next morning on their walk.
“I got a kiss and a hug,” he told Spain’s Nius outlet. “She was delighted.”
He acknowledged that the bench isn’t much to look at, and he probably could have sanded and varnished it before putting it in place.
However, he’s just glad that his wife has somewhere to rest now.
“It’s not very luxurious, but it’s comfortable and safe,” he said.
Souto also included a hand-written inscription on the bench, in what could be read as a veiled shot at the slow-moving town council.
“Respecten Para Mallores,” the inscription says. “Respect for old people.”
Many have pointed out that the last word is misspelled and should read “Mayores,” but Souto says he’s not bothered by the error.
“I didn’t go to school,” he told Nius. “I started working when I was a child and worked all my life, just like my wife. The poor thing has never stopped working.”
He added that locals have been very supportive of his project.
“Some neighbours have called me to do another one, but I already told them no,” he said.
“I did this one exclusively for my wife.”
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