Deceitful Cover

January 9, 2009
By Stephen Stearman, Louisville, KY

“Hello?” I answered.

“Hey, Stephen, its Mr. Neff from down the street.”

“Oh hey, what can I do for you?” I asked politely.

“I was wondering if you could come to my house tomorrow and do some work for me if it’s not a problem.”

“I can ask my dad and see if I have to work, but what kinda work are you talking about?” I asked with a very pessimistic attitude.

“Lay mulch, trim bushes, lay some hose, ya know just a few odd jobs, it won’t take more then an hour.”

I rolled my eyes and replied, “Doesn’t sound too bad I guess, I’ll see if I can and get back to you.”

“Okay, sounds good. Bye bud.”

There was nothing I wanted to do less then going and working for a 56 year old man in the blazing ninety-eight degree July sun for no pay. I mean really, come on now, who does? After some time of begging and pleading with my dad to not make me go.

“Dad, come on, please, I know you would rather have me laying by a pool, enjoying my summer then me actually do something and help him out.” I begged with a sense of desperation in my voice.

“Ha…ha good one son, get your ass down to his house and help him out.” He replied.

I agreed to go and make the best of it, to get in and out. That was the goal. My dad wanted me to go so bad because Mr. Neff was his buddy and he wanted to show him how nice and thoughtful I was. This is also why he wouldn’t let me accept any money. I walked down to his house with my head down.

I walked into his back yard to find a six foot two 250 pound man blaring Shania Twain out of his white Ford Expedition wearing a tight white and baby blue shirt that didn’t even meet the baby blue shorts which only stretched ten inches below his hip bone, and smoked cigarettes one after another. Talk about regretting doing something, I had to look at this man for what I thought was going be only an hour.

He said, “I’m glad you could make it.” In what seemed like a voice filled with excitement.

“Glad I could make it sir” I replied. I hadn’t told such a big white lie in my life.

He handed me a pair of latex gloves and work gloves. I couldn’t make out what to do with the latex gloves. I was told to put them on under the work gloves because the dye from the black mulch would go through them and stain my hands. Almost the instant I put them on I felt my hands get clammy and hot because of the already sweaty palms being closed in like a green house. I know it was for the best though; he was only looking out for me.

After one hour and a shirt drenched in sweat, which looked like tie-dye of black and white, I was still laying mulch. I was getting frustrated. I had things to do and people to see, like soak up the suns rays beside a chicks pool. So I started working at a very high pace to get out of there but he kept telling me “to slow down and take my time, time is not of the essence, do a good job.” After a while any word he said turned to “blah, blah, blah”. Mr. Neff changed to the teacher on “Charlie Brown” making nothing but incomprehensive sounds.

Once two hours rolled around, I realized it didn’t do me any good to shun the man so I decided to listen to what he had to say and learn from him. I was finally on the last leg of my service tri-athalon and I relaxed because I was almost finished. We talked about his life and how is wife died from cancer. His passion is fishing and how he is actually a semi-pro in the very difficult sport, he said that he spends close to two hours a day working on his fishing boat. He owned a demolition car for the derbies over in Indiana, and was a master mechanic and engineer for Ford for almost thirty years.

Even though I had to go use my hands and get dirty for no pay with an over weight, very distinguished older man who wore incredibly tight clothing and blared Shania Twain, I accomplished something that day. I got out of my comfort zone, disproved the theory to judge a book by its cover even more and I know that this has deepened and expanded my character to new reaches. One can bet when I get a phone call asking for service…I’ll be there.

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