Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Old Man Helps a 12-year-old Boy

When I was twelve, my stepfather said if I wanted any money, I would have to work for it. As he did not give me an allowance for my chores at home, I started going door-to-door asking for jobs.

One very elderly man sitting on his porch said I could mow his lawn.  “Sir, I have no lawn mower,” I responded.  

“You can use mine,” he said.  “Do you know how to use a lawn mower?”

I said, “No.” “Well, pull that rope and start the engine,” he replied.

He was basically crippled, so he sat on the porch and yelled out instructions over the low roar of the gasoline engine until I got the lawn mower started.  

“No, no!  Not that way! What’s the matter? Can’t you go straight?”  He yelled throughout the whole lawn mowing adventure as I cut his front lawn.

He yelled at me until I got it right. Then he suggested a business venture. “You won’t get any lawns to mow unless you have a lawn mower.  I’ll tell you what I’ll do.  I’ll give you the lawn mower for $100 and you can pay me back by mowing my lawn every week. You can take the lawn mower and get more jobs.”

I thought that was a pretty good deal.  So, I went next door and asked if I could mow the lawn.  They said yes, and I began my business career.  The next thing I knew, the old man was standing in the driveway leaning on his cane, yelling out instructions until I got it right.  Then he followed me to the next yard.

With each lawn my skills improved until I got pretty good for a young boy.  

His wife would set out lemonade, cookies, and a sandwich, and he would yell at me some more as I mowed his lawn.  Since he was training me, he wanted me to do it perfectly.  Sometimes he would follow me around and inspect all the lawns I mowed to make sure I was doing it right.

Yelling or not, this old man helped me learn a trade and encouraged me in my young business career. When I was 15, I still had that lawn mower, plus three professional lawn mowers and thirty people working for me.  I also hired a couple of drivers since I was too young to have a driver’s license.

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