Sunday, February 12, 2006

The man at the door

I hadn't seen him since the day before Thanksgiving, when he came to the door offering to clean my gutters for $20. It was a great deal, my gutters needed cleaning, and I took him up on the offer. I paid him $35, which was all the cash I had on hand at the time. After all, a good gutter-cleaning usually costs $75-$100 in this neighborhood, so it would have been a bargain at $50. Anway, he did a great job and said he'd be back another day to help with my gutters.

It's a bitter cold day in Atlanta. I had a good fire blazin' in the fireplace and a book holding my attention when the doorbell rang early this afternoon.

"Your gutters need cleanin' again," the old man said after I opened the door. He stood on the walkway, not incroaching on the steps or my porch. He smiled a tooth-challenged grin and looked hopeful.

He's right. The gutters do need cleaning. But I didn't have any cash on hand - not even a spare $35 - to give to him today. I explained the situation. He offered to clean them anyway and come back another time for the money, but I didn't want him to do that.

"Come back next Saturday and you can do the gutters, then," I suggested, wishing all the while I had some cash to give him just to help him out. We worked out the particulars, and after a "God bless you, m'am," he walked off down the street.

After he left I felt guilty. Why? He was warm enough - had on a coat, gloves, hat, and sturdy boots. Maybe he was hungry. Maybe not. But still I wish I had some cash to give him, just because. Because he's cheerful and does good work. Because it's cold outside. Because my gutters need cleaning.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You have a big soft streak MaryB. And that is a compliment. It is gratifying to know there are still people who understand that working for pay, tit-for-tat, is far more rewarding and honorable than begging, and gets better results. Most of them here do not understand that and they are becoming very aggressive in their begging tactics. My gutters need cleaning. Send the guy on up to Nashville.