“Remember, there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” – Scott Adams, American artist and creator of the Dilbert comic strip.
My new old job at the local newspaper has kept me more than busy lately. It’s also earned me the nickname of “rerun” compliments of local Center, Texas merchant Shana Brittain at a recent Center Business Association meeting.
I accept that title with honor. It just means I’m still going, in the game, and worthy of being called up again. Even with that notable recognition, however, long hours and late nights had been cutting into my duties at home. Most evident was the spring crop of weeds getting a jump on my lawn. I knew it was out of hand when I let the dogs out a few days ago, then had to go looking for them when they couldn’t find their way back to the door.
But that was before a young man came to the office last week. He said, “You probably don’t remember me, but several years ago, me and some friends were walking by your house one night. You were in your garage working on an old car, and we stopped in the street to watch. You saw us, invited us to come on in the garage, and took time to tell us all about the car.”
That much of the story didn’t help in identifying to whom I was talking. I’ve spent many nights over many years working on any number of old cars in more than one garage. A garage door up and the lights on while tinkering with a wrecking yard refugee can prompt a variety of visitors. A few years ago, that included frequent times when a city police car would pull in the driveway. It was never an official visit, though, just Lt. Ed Roberts on night patrol duty stopping to see what I was working on at the time.
My office visitor last week continued his story admitting that he fell in with the wrong crowd as he got a little older and got into trouble. He said that had it not been for a minister spending time with him, involving him in church activities, and teaching him about the Lord, he would most likely be in prison right now.
All the dots were quickly connected when he said he was mowing a yard in the neighborhood and noticed my grass needing mowing. Remembering the night I invited some young boys I didn’t even know into my garage to look at an old car, he said, “The Lord spoke to me while ago and told me you needed someone to mow your yard. So, I mowed it.”
“You’ve already done it?” I asked in disbelief. ‘Yes, sir,” he said. “I hope you don’t mind.”
As I was at the same time feeling embarrassed my yard was looking that bad while also feeling thankful that he had mowed it for me, I expressed my gratitude and asked how much I owed him. He said I didn’t owe him anything; he just came to the office to get my permission to go inside my fenced backyard and mow there too.
“That sounds good,” I told him, “but don’t think for a minute I’m not going to pay you for what you’ve done.” He said again he wasn’t looking to get paid; he did it because the Lord told him I needed help to get it mowed.
I told him the Lord was right; I did. But that didn’t mean I would not pay him for his work, regardless of his motivation for performing such a thoughtful act.
That evening, I walked around my nicely groomed yard, amazed at this one young man’s random act of kindness and his faith that led him to do it. It reminded me that despite depressing news stories about insanity unhinging our way of life in America, good people still do thoughtful things expecting nothing in return.
It was enough to cause even an old rerun newspaper guy to smile.
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Aldridge columns are published in these Texas newspapers: The Center Light and Champion, the Mount Pleasant Tribune, the Rosenberg Fort Bend Herald, the Taylor Press, and the Alpine Avalanche.
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