01 October 2012

My Error


An old-time plow marked his driveway. This I liked. He said he was ill. And I could smell it while we walked his property. He was from Long Island; family grew potatoes. This I liked too. Glenn and I dickered. I settled downward. I did the first mow. But then at the end Glenn asked what we'd agreed to and I reflexively said, “Sixty dollars.” He hesitated for a split second; he paid me.
Glenn phoned to ask me to mow again. I claimed my error. Oh dear. OK. Oh, by the way, a tree's fallen in the storm, and to please mow around it all. A tree had fallen – on his house and home. It was demolished. I mowed around it all. Glenn mailed a $50 check.
I phoned ahead. Unbidden, and still feeling embarrassment and some shame, I did another mow some weeks on. I wasn’t paid. I phoned a few times, no response. Glen had a full plate. I moved on; stuff happens. My original error.
I received a fifty-dollar check in the mail. I couldn't recall the return address peoples faces, what it was for (then, oh yeah, duh, a lawn). But where was the lawn? Hmmm. The enclosed handwritten letter on plain lined tablet paper explained: trees falling on house, emergency motel housing, husband's death, mother's death, and triplet birth to son's wife had all come to pass. At the end of these passages, more than 16 months on, all of this while living in a motel room, all of which must compose a tale, my customer's widow, Sue, pays me and handwrites a letter to explain her late payment.
I’d never met Sue. I'm embarrassed I didn't recall Glenn, the black old-timey plow, the fallen oak tree, the newly renovated demolished home, his smell. I'm humbled and saddened and honored. I never dreamed I’d feel embarrassment, humility, sadness and honor from mowing a lawn. Mowing lawns is personal. 

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