November 22, 2007
Originally published December 15, 2004
When I was about 10 years old, I needed to earn some money, so I contracted with a neighbor to cut her grass and edge her curb. My daddy told me that I could use his lawnmower (as long as I paid him back for the gas--- which was about 26 cents a gallon at the time) and I negotiated what I thought was a fair price-- $2.50, I believe, for the job. I told her that I would be there bright and early on Saturday to do the work.
I showed up on time and I cut the grass. But... DAMN!!! It was a Saturday in July in southeast Georgia and the temperature was as hot as the gates of hell. I was hacking away at the weeds on her curb when some of my friends came by on bicycles and invited me to go skinny-dipping in the Gun Club Lake with them. Ohhhh... the thought of that water washing over my sweaty self almost made me swoon. I wanted to go.
I thunk a thought. I could finish this job TOMORROW and go skinny-dipping RIGHT NOW!!! I wouldn't ask Mrs. Johnson to pay me until I was done, and I was pretty sure that I could talk her into giving me a break. I tried, and I was correct.
I ran back to my house to get my bicycle, but I was intercepted by my daddy. "Where are YOU going?" he asked. He had been watching me from the living room window.
"Ummm... I'm going to play with my friends," I replied. Skinny-dipping in the lake was strictly forbidden, so I kept those plans to myself.
"You finished with your work?"
"No... but Mrs. Johnson says that I can finish tomorrow. I just have a little more of the curb to do."
"Then go do the rest of the curb. You gave her your word. If you didn't want the job, you shouldn't have asked for it."
He made me go back and finish that job before I went off to have a good time with my friends. I resented what he did at the time, but I don't anymore.
My daddy was that kind of man, and he taught me a valuable lesson that day. He was not much of a multiculturalist. He believed that if somebody paid you to do a job, you DID IT. Just as simple as that.
Too few people teach their children that lesson anymore.
All content © Rob Smith