So, the other day, a teenage boy came to our door and politely asked if we would pay him to mow our yard. I have to admit, for one second I was wary. Wariness based on the visual assessment you know we all do in that first second of meeting someone. Here was mine: teenager, multiple piercings, somewhat long/shaggy hair hanging in eyes that required frequent head-flipping for him to see, and a lot of acne. Somehow, those thoughts faded out, and I immediately thought, “Hooray!” Two weeks ago, our lawn mower broke down and we’ve been borrowing my brother-in-law’s mower since then. Someone who wanted to mow for us? How serendipitous! (Sorry, the word popped into my head and I had to use it). We had previously discussed trying to find a local teenager to mow for us, but weren’t sure that there were any individuals existing within the species who were willing to perform this sort of work anymore. We had asked one, and were treated as if we were insane or perhaps visiting from another planet.
I immediately liked “Mowing Boy,” (even though my husband scoffs at my purported skills of intuition). He just struck me as a good, responsible kid. I asked him how much he was going to charge, and he got sort of nervous and said, “I’m just a really hard worker and want to earn some money this summer. I don’t know – – maybe 10 or 15 dollars?” Our yard takes us 1 hour to mow with a push mower, so this seemed like a fair price to me. We agreed on $15, he said he’d be back later in the week and he asked “if it would be too much trouble” (HONESTLY – he said exactly that) to have $5 up front for gas for his mower. Since I was giving him money anyway, I gave him the full $15. He shook his head and said I didn’t need to pay him the full amount until the job was done. I looked him in the eye and told him it was OK – I trusted him. He seemed to relax a bit and assured me that he’s not one of “those bad kids, Ma’am” and that he was responsible.
So, do you know where this story’s going…….
That’s right! He came back. On a very hot afternoon, he came pushing the mower from 8 blocks away. He brought his two little brothers (I’m guessing aged 8 and 10). One was in charge of carrying the gas can and the other with trash bags for bagging sticks and clippings. My best guess is that he’s also responsible for “baby-sitting” them. He was a meticulous worker. He mowed very slowly and evenly, in perfectly straight lines, and, when he was finished, he asked if we had a broom he could use to sweep the sidewalks. I wondered if I was dreaming. Our yard looks better than it ever has. My husband met him only briefly, since he was just coming home as Mowing Boy was leaving, but he said with admiration, “I think I like him.” Ha! He should never have scoffed at my intuitive skills.
So what does trust get you? Sometimes, it can open up a world of wonderful. I wonder if Mowing Boy’s parents know what he’s doing? I hope that they’re as proud of him as I am. I’m just some kooky stranger down the street, but I’m pretty darned impressed to find that there are indeed responsible teens out there, willing to work hard, be honest and do a good job. I wonder how many of our neighbors turned him down because of initial, outward appearances. Too bad for them. Mowing Boy, if you ever needs a reference for that Ivy League College or prestigious job you’re headed for, just let me know. I’m already singing your praises.