Monday, September 13, 2010

Cardboard Sign

I meant to post this last week:


I was on the bike trail this morning--halfway through my morning walk--when I saw a young man across the street holding a cardboard sign that said “Need work. Anything helps.” I kept on walking, wishing I could give the guy a job when I remembered that our front grass was growing quite tall and our jungle of a back yard had an overdue date with the clippers. I crossed the street at the next traffic light and made my way back home, in the direction of the young man. Inside I was having one of those silly debates that went something like this:

“I should hire him to do some gardening.”
“Yeah, but how is a few hours of work going to help him?”
“Well, the sign said, ‘Anything helps.’”
“Yeah, but I don’t even know the guy. And I don’t have any extra cash on hand.”
“He’s just going to be mowing the lawn, not moving in. And I’m sure Eric has some extra cash to pay him.”
“Well, what am I going to do, just have him follow me home?”
“Yes, and then you can get to know him.”
“Fine, you win. And for the record, it’s what I was going to do anyway!”

By the time my mental conversation was over, I was introducing myself and hiring the young man. He said he could work right away and he walked back with me. I told him that I walked fast, but he had no problem keeping up. On the mile back to my house, I asked him a few questions and found out that he rented a room in a house nearby, but that he was homeless before that. He has a 3-year-old son, too, who lives with his ex-girlfriend nearby. He is trying to find a job so he could see his son again, but even the fast-food restaurants are not hiring right now. So, this morning he decided to stand on the street corner with his cardboard sign. It was 8:30 when I saw him. He had been on the curb for two hours already. He said he was grateful for the work, even if it was only for a few hours.

When we got to our house, he set to work on mowing the grass and I made him a big breakfast. Eric chatted with him before heading to work, and I started school with Amber, who really wanted to skip the whole thing and stare out the window at our new friend as he clipped the rosebushes. A few hours later, the front lawn was manicured and the back yard looked a lot less like a jungle. We were finished with school and on our way to an appointment and so I drove our friend—with cardboard sign in tow--back to his spot on the curb. Inwardly, I prayed that he would find more work today and a permanent job soon. I also prayed that he would be drawn to Jesus.

Later, I was on the phone with my sister, recalling the day’s events. I said, “I know that $40 isn’t going to help him tremendously, but more than anything, I just wanted him to know that someone cared.”


ruthbrooks said...

Awesome story, Christine!! Thanks for sharing :)

Rebecca said...

What a blessing all around! And I love hearing about your home school adventures. You always make it sound so fallish and exciting, even when you're just starting out. :) I sort of miss that "school" feeling this time of year.