Today we walked down to put in a shelf for a tenant. We blabbed for a while, and then came back up the street. We admired Angela's garden, and we looked for Mr. M, but he wasn't front porch sitting today. He's usually good for a friendly chat. An elderly, very thin man was sitting on HIS front porch though, and we called out a cheery hello even as I pointed a plant out on the other side of the street. "Tim," I said, "I'd like to have some of this at our house," even as Tim mused, "I think we had that stuff around the lamp post at the brick house, but it did not come back this year." Just chit chatting and walking along.
Suddenly, I heard, "Tim! Hey, Tim!" and we turned around to see the elderly man had come off front porch. Now these are interesting people, and I know that the woman herself has approached us about doing work for us. She likes to interior decorate. I had told her, "Well, really, we don't need a lot of interior decorating in a rental unit. The tenants do that for themselves, but thank you," and she headed back across the street to that neat as a pin front porch.
We stopped as the man approached us. He had noticed that we could use some weeding help. We could, actually. It's been so gosh darn rainy and between working at work, and taking care of William, and working at the brick house, well...sometimes things like weeding get moved down on the priority list. Turns out that he's been asking for work from Tim quite regularly.
Tim said, cautiously, "How much will you be charging us?" and the man mused and said, "$10? I just need something to stay busy." I imagine that Tim wanted to kick my tail when I said, "No. We'll pay you $20." It's hot and humid, and that's a considerable amount of work for $10. A couple hours, easy. Fair's fair.
So the man accompanied us home. Tim did not want him to use power tools, fearful of his frailty, and the possibility of injury, but the man went to work with a spade and a hoe. I took him out a tall glass of ice water, and I could see that he was winded. "Hey," I said, "you know, if it is too hot this afternoon, you don't have to do this right now. You can come back." He decided to do that and told me that he'd be back tomorrow. "Are you home all day?" he asked, and I said, "No, but you can do the work any time you want. I don't have to be here." I gave him the $20.
Tim didn't say anything, but I could see that he would have done it differently. I watched the man carefully bag up the yard waste, and return the tools to the back porch. He went off down the street.
Tim and I are two very blessed people. Being generous is important to us, so the $20 is not a big deal, not really. This man will either come back or he won't. It is as simple as that. Either way, we will soon discover what his true character is.