Thursday, October 2, 2008

Pay It Forward/Ike Chronicle #5

Another one from DC:

The person who helped us might not need for us to help them back and so, we must always be willing to help somebody else.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, I received a lot of help, from good friends, good neighbors and even unexpected sources. And so, when Mr. Miller called to ask for my help, I had no second thoughts. Mr. Miller is a very close friend of mine. How we met 16 years ago and became very close is an interesting story that I have to tell you later. He treats me like a son and I treat him like a father. He is into his 80's now and is quite frail but still drives a little. He lives alone, never married, no children, no family in Houston. He calls me every time he needs help, like driving him about when his car is in the shop, minor repairs in his house - stuck doors, peeling wall paper, etc. He gave me a key to his house even though he is very wary about letting people know he lives there by himself. Aside from valuables (his collection of Japanese masks are beautiful) there is of course the matter of safety. Even though he did not want to get into
details,I think there already has been at least one unfortunate incident which made him paranoid. Before the hurricane I called him to ask if he needed help with any preparation. He said that there really was not much to do and his neighbor already took care of it but he will call me after the storm if he needs help.

Needless to say, the call came Sunday morning. He has broken tree branches all over. He is most concerned about the pile of debris on his long driveway because he can't get out and has important doctor's appointments the coming week. My front yard is already in decent shape but my backyard is still a big mess but I said that can wait. Me and my 13 year son Phillip (who got a $500 check from Mr. Miller last Christmas) loaded our rakes, brooms and plastic bags and headed for Mr. Miller's house.

On the way over, my son said, "Dad, let's make one thing clear: we are not going to let him pay us because if we do, we are no longer helping. It would seem like we are taking advantage." I said, "Well, I agree with you and I know what you mean but I know him and he is going to insist. Here's what we do: if he insists on paying, I'll have him talk to you and it's your call, OK?" Agreed.

To make a long story short, we got there and cleaned up the driveway. There was a lot of debris but since the branches were small enough to drag or carry to the curb and needed no chainsaw, we went ahead and cleaned up the front yard, back yard and I went up the roof. Lastly, we also cleaned up a refrigerator full of spoiled or soon to be spoiled food. It took us the whole day and when we were done, a very appreciative Mr. Miller handed me an envelope that I know contained cash. I told him that Phillip told me we cannot take it and he has to talk to my son about it.

Mr. Miller explained to Phillip that, although it is commendable on his part, we have to take the money because we earned it and if we did not do the work, he would have been forced to have complete strangers work on his property and will have no choice but pay whatever their exorbitant charge will be. Phillip countered that it is not right and so on and so forth. At this point I decided to walk away and not be caught between a 13 year old and an 83 year old making their points. I overheard them going back and forth for a while and then Phillip came over. I asked what happened. "Well," he said, "He talked me into it. Here's 75 bucks - that's your half."

Hold on a minute, I protested. We used my tools, we used my precious gas to come here, I did all the heavy lifting, I cleaned the roof all by myself - shouldn't you get $50 and me a $100, at least? He said,"No, you said it's my call and my call is 50/50 down the middle." I just shut my mouth, scratched my head and raked my leaves.

I swear, someday this kid will grow up to be either one of those overpaid CEOs or be working for the IRS.


1 comment:

WillyJ said...

"I swear, someday this kid will grow up to be either one of those overpaid CEOs or be working for the IRS." - DC

No DC, I think your kid will grow up to be somebody with a tireless spirit, a kind heart, and a role model just as you are. Yet..
.."like sheep among wolves, innocent as doves but wise as serpents.." (Matthew 10:16)

At pag laki, malakas din sa inuman :-)