He was the nicest guy. He noticed the struggling little patch of grass in front of our house and asked if I was interested in some sod. He was a landscaper who lived around the corner and had some St. Augustine grass left over from another job that he would let me have if I wanted it.
I explained how the dead grass he was looking at was actually new only a few weeks ago, but the neighborhood dogs had already peed it beyond recognition and anything new would only result in the same fate. However, I did have some bare patches of St. Augustine in the back that my wife had been wanting me to fix for some time, and maybe he could be the answer to my dreams, since my “honey do” list was growing too big for one husband to handle.
“Well let’s take a look,” he said.
As we walked back he raved about our little cottage and seemed to be full of free advice about everything. He even took some time explaining how our ficus trees needed to be opened up a little to let more sun in, and how their roots were taking over our back yard, and then proceeded to show me how to trim the roots back. “You can do it with an axe. I’ll bring one with me and show you.”
After examining our lawn and determining he had just what we needed, and that he could put it in that afternoon for only $120 and a cold beer when he was done (and that was just for the labor — the grass was free), I had decided he was an angel in disguise.
We chatted about lots of things as we walked back around the house, and he had nothing but nice things to say about what a rare piece of property we had for Laguna. Back out front, he asked for some paper and a pen so he could draw up a little contract since he didn’t have his book with him. On it he put the name of his landscape company, his landscapers license number, phone number, and then he wrote “$40.00 down, $80.00 upon completion of the project” and said, “You can write me a check for the $80, but if you happen to have cash for the $40, that would save me a trip to the bank.”
I don’t always have much cash on hand, but as a “coincidence” I had $40, and I celebrated in my mind as I went and got it, that I would be able to get this one thing off my list. Marti was going to be so happy.
He said he’d be back with his truck in about an hour, but when an hour passed, and turned into two, I began to feel stupid. Was my angel really a devil? A guy with a landscaper’s license who needed $40 in cash should have been my first clue, but it never even crossed my mind. When I tried the phone number and found it wasn’t a working number it became evident that his “$120 and a cold one” was really “$40 and bye-bye.” Sure enough, I never saw the guy again.
Jesus told His disciples they needed to be as shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. Well I got the innocent part down, but I could have used a little more shrewdness.
Of course this raises the whole issue of trust. Finding that line between trust and suspicion in relationships is a difficult proposition. I personally think that I would rather err on the side of trust even if it means I get taken advantage of sometimes.
Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13 that love “believes all things,” but is that the same thing as gullible? I’m not so sure we can always know. I’m sure some of you have lost a lot more than $40 and that can up the ante on this whole discussion, but I still want to be a trusting person and that may cost me sometimes. What do you think?
I know what Marti thinks. She says that he probably needed it more than I did, and will I please fix her lawn now. I have my friendly neighborhood “landscaper” to thank for that!
One of the things we will be discussing with Os Guinness tonight will be getting along with people who may be our enemies in disguise. Don’t miss this!