Last Saturday around noon, I was sitting knitting in my nightgown when my doorbell rang. (Actually, it is broken, so it buzzes; I like to think of it as a cool New York apartment, where I have to buzz in my guests.)
It wasn't a guest, but a man looking for work. He looked harmless; more accurately, he looked like the stereotypical dork from every high school movie --thin build, thick glasses, and a little uneasy in his own skin. He asked if he could mow my grass for a little money.
Since I was in my nightgown, didn't know this man and didn't really want to talk about my lawn, I asked him to come back on Monday. I didn't expect him to be back.
On Sunday, I came home from the Methodist church with a terrible headache. I was home alone, so I took some Advil, laid on the couch under a big quilt (one my grandma had made from scraps from the shirt factory) and found a good movie on TV -- The Holiday. I had also taken my pants off; don't ask me why -- I think the terrible headache was causing me to do crazy man things.
At a very important part of the movie, the doorbell buzzed. I threw on my pants and went to the door -- the man was back, asking again to mow the grass.
Again, I really didn't want this guy to mow my grass. So, I told him we didn't do things like that on Sundays. (Actually, this is mostly true -- I really am trying to reduce the amount of work we do on Sundays).
The poor many actually gasped. And started to stammer. "Oh, ma'am," he said, "I'm a Christian, too." (Yikes!) And he apologized and apologized and told me how he was thinking of joining the Nazarene church and then he apologized some more. Finally, I was able to break in and tell him it was fine, just come back tomorrow. We agreed that he would start at noon on Monday, and I would give him $50 for mowing our acre of grass and trimming. This time, I was fairly sure he would be back.
Back to the couch and the movie. Not twenty minutes later, the doorbell buzzed once again. There he was. And this time, he asked for an advance on the mowing. He said his wife "was after him to get some money for groceries for the kids." So I gave him $20. He tried to give me his driver's license and Social Security card as a good faith measure, which of course, I didn't want. (But now I knew his name -- Shannon.) I told him I would be gone Monday for a funeral, but I would leave the other $30 taped to my door. After he left, I realized he would probably come to my house, take the $30 and run.
After the funeral, I had to run home and print some things off from the computer. There he was, mowing away. I heard the mower stop and the doorbell buzz. "Thanks for the money," he said. "Would it be possible for you to loan me another $20 to mow your grass next week?" I told him that next week, my husband would be home from Australia and enjoyed mowing the grass himself (again, sort of mostly true). Shannon told me how he had made $65,000 a year driving a semi until his eyes "went bad" and he was fired. I felt very sorry for him. So, I gave him another $20, which he took while falling over himself with thanks.
As he was finishing up the trimming, a truck pulled in to our driveway and an older gentleman dressed in overalls and smoking a pipe got out. I watched from inside as he talked to Shannon for a few minutes. The doorbell buzzed yet again. "Ma'am, that's my son out there; he's gonna be moving out pretty soon. But I'd be glad to come mow your grass next week for the same money you gave him."
I'm supposed to "give him a call" when I need him.
I hope he's not sitting by the phone.
The grass did get mowed, and it looks pretty good. But I am out $70 for something Will and I could have done ourselves.
And I thought I was doing a good deed, helping out my fellow man, "entertaining angels unaware".
Or did I just get taken?
I think perhaps it is better to err on the side of charity, and let God figure it out later. In my case, He's going to have a lot of figuring to do.
"Ah, all the things I could do/ if I had a little money/ it's a rich man's world." ABBA
At the other end of the money spectrum:
A boy I knew 30 years ago has just been listed in the Forbes 400 Richest People in America.
He is worth $2.8 billion, with a B.
Wonder if he needs his grass mowed?