This evening the kids and I made a quick trip to the grocery store. While I was handing bags to the kids to carry in, a man approached me in the driveway. He pointed to my disheveled yard, which my kind neighbor had just mowed (since he couldn't stand looking at any longer, I'm certain!). He mentioned that it was a mess. Of that, I was quite aware. It was on my "list". I had pulled out some sad looking shrubs but had left gaping holes and quite an eyesore. The tree was overgrown and the weeds were taking over the space. He mentioned that he was "dirt cheap" and would I want him to take of it? He was polite, very dirty and quite desperate.
I glanced to the street to see small grey pickup truck with a busted tail light, a woman and child in the cab and a lawn mower in the back. I asked him for a business card with the intention of talking to Kelly and having him return later in the weekend, as I really did need the yard work done.
He fumbled around in a notebook and said that he would like to complete the work now. I sent the kids inside as his wife and child joined his side and I listened to him tell me what he would do for "almost nothing". The wife had wanted cash, I'm certain their needs were immediate, and not altogether legal. It wasn't hard to determine that this couple had little resources, but had an expensive habit.
I made a split second decision and said - Yes.
As soon as I went inside, I questioned the wisdom of my choice. I told the woman I would give her a check when the work was complete. My stomach began to ache. Had I made the right decision? Kelly was not home, but it was broad daylight and several neighbors were out and about. I locked my doors as I watched the little boy, about 6 years old, play on the grass until his mother called him over to help. Inside, I prayed, tried to call Kelly, a friend and my sister. No one answered their phone.
They finished very quickly, much faster than I had anticipated. I handed over a blank check. $65 dollars for 17 minutes of work. The Camilla bushes were shaped, the weeds were hacked down, the tree was trimmed. They hauled the clippings and while it didn't look fantastic, it certainly looked better than it did 17 minutes before.
They drove away and I realized I was holding my breath. Is it possible to hold your breath for 17 minutes? I asked myself if I had just done something incredibly stupid. Kelly wasn't home, was it wise to allow them to work in my yard? Was I just a sucker, paying way too much for 17 minutes with an electric trimmer? Was I just being ridiculous?
After a few hours to gain perspective, I have determined that this family needed $65 more than I did, even if it is a week until payday and it wasn't a money tree that the gentleman had trimmed. I can pray that they will use the money to buy a meal, provide for their child or pay a bill. I can pray that Jesus will touch their lives, in some way, any way.
I can rest in my split second decision (which still has me a little nervous) that perhaps not all good deeds go unpunished.
'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' Matthew 25:40