Helen of Marlowe's Blog

The Last Straw – or The Last Macaroon

Posted in "North Carolina", NC, Winston-Salem by helenofmarlowe on March 27, 2012

A few weeks ago, my husband went for his morning walk, and came back home with a real live  Flannery O’Conner character.

Bob has a route that he takes, total round trip almost 3 miles. About a mile or so from our house is an apartment complex, but he doesn’t walk past it.  No particular reason, just that he stays on the main sidewalks.

So I’m out in the front yard pulling weeds. Bare hands. You might think that part about my bare hands is an insignificant distraction, but just wait –-

OK, I see my husband walking down the street, heading back home, and wonder about the red-headed boy walking beside him. He gets to the yard, says, Helen, this is Dillon.  Dillon lives in the apartments over on Del Monte.

Turns out Dillon had an opportunity to make $30 by mowing a neighbor’s yard – not a neighbor we know, one several blocks away. Bob said Dillon needed to borrow our lawnmower in order to mow a yard …

Next thing I know,  this stranger –well, Bob has known him 10 minutes– this stranger  is walking up the street pushing our lawnmower. A couple of hours later he brings it back, says thank you, and walks off into the sunset.

A few days later, I’m home alone and Dillon rings the doorbell. He really needs money, he’ll do anything, we must surely have some work for him. He suggested he could clean the gutters, and I asked how much he would charge. He said $25. I thought of my husband having to do that, thought that really, it probably is  a big job, and Dillon said the gutters look like they need cleaning…  so I said ok.  It took him 15 minutes! I gave him the $25, because a deal is a deal, but realized I should have asked him first how long it will take.

I make a mental note that I hope we don’t see this kid again, but I know there’s not much chance. So far we’ve lent him our lawnmower and paid him for a chore at the rate of $100/hour. He’ll be back.

A few days later, Bob and I are sitting on the front porch eating our black bean veggieburgers and sliced avocados, and Dillon walks up the steps, sits in a third rocking chair without being invited, and tells us he needs $45. Needs bus fare to visit his grandmother in Virginia. It’s about 3 pm, and that’s not an insignificant detail either.

We don’t need any work done. Jeff has helped me with heavy yard work for years, and Doug mows the grass. But seeing that he’s not likely to leave happily, I ask him how much he charges per hour. He says, Whatever you want to pay. I said, Last time you were here I paid you $25 for fifteen minutes. He says, Oh, yeah, sorry about that. And he says he’ll work for $20 an hour. Except that really, I don’t see anything that I want him to do. And if he needs $45, that’s more than than two hours worth of work that he’s asking for and we don’t need anything done.

Well, we’re not heartless, so next thing I know, I’m handing him a bow saw and showing him some wayward limbs. He (sort of) finishes that in ten minutes, and then asks if I’d bring him a glass of water. I go in to get the water, and then show him where I’ve been weeding, pulling weeds, tossing them into a bucket, and carrying them out to the compost pile. He can help me with that, although I’d rather be finishing my black bean veggieburger and then working on my own plans that I had for the day.

Dillon says he really would rather not do weeding, if that’s ok, because he has no gloves and he’s afraid of spiders, and besides he’s needing to get to the bus station by 4:30. And by the way, would I mind going in to my computer and ordering his ticket for him? This is getting to be a bit unsettling, but next thing I know I’m out telling him that I went to the website and didn’t see any place to reserve a ticket without a credit card, and besides, he is supposed to work for two hours and he came here at 3 pm and he expects to be on a bus at 4:30? And he still has to walk home? He says maybe we could take him home, but he still has to pack, but that won’t take long. He has no way to get home, and he won’t get there in time to pack if he has to walk. I asked him how he plans to get to the bus station, and he said, Do you think you could drive me?

I’m totally out of my league here. It seems I’ve agreed to pay him $45 to work for two hours between 3:00 and 4:00 pm (but not weed because he’s afraid of spiders) and then take him to the bus station, after I reserve a ticket for him. I’m thinking of the things I meant to do today, but nothing on my list is getting done because I’m fetching water and calling the bus station and finding make-work for him to pretend he’s doing. So I go in and tell Bob that really, I don’t want him to do anything else, I just want him to go. I want my day back. Just give him $45 and tell him to go on to Virginia and visit his grandmother. Bob agrees, and we scrounge around the house putting together $45 and I take it out to him and tell him he’d better go or he will miss his bus. I tell him yes, just go on, and at 4:15 Bob will come get him and take him to the bus station. He points out that Bob doesn’t know where he lives (or even who he is), so Bob will have to take him home to find out where he lives. Well, he’s got me there – this is too much for me.

So now Bob has agreed to take him home, wait for him to pack, and drive him to the bus station. As Bob was getting ready to leave, he started putting macaroons into a plastic zip bag. I had made the macaroons the night before.  Bob said we don’t need all these macaroons, and this boy won’t have time to eat …

8 Responses

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  1. Gary said, on March 27, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    oh gee Helen…please be careful Ya’ll really need to learn when to say no, we gave at the office or whatever. This guy is going to keep coming back because you’re an easy touch. And then there are so many other variables….

  2. Joseph Gilmore said, on March 27, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    This is hilarious, but should I worry about one half of you two?

  3. Janet Joyner said, on March 27, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    This boy is like bamboo, once a shoot roots, you’ll never get rid of it.

  4. Jim Wheeler said, on March 27, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    There are two basic kinds of humans the way I see it. Make sure you avoid the wrong kind; they are not interchangeable.

    1. Nikola Tesla. Horatio Alger. The good Samaritan. Thomas Edison. Abraham Lincoln. George Washington Carver.

    2. P. T. Barnum. Bernard L. Madoff. Jimmy Swaggart. Charles Ponzi. Frank Abagnale. Jim Bakker.

    • helenofmarlowe said, on March 27, 2012 at 10:39 pm

      I had to look up Frank Abagnale. When I see that

      he became one of the most famous impostors ever, claiming to have assumed no
      fewer than eight separate identities

      I’m surprised I had not heard of him. Or else didn’t remember.
      I like your list. I will add to it.
      1.Eleanor Roosevelt. Sojourner Truth. Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Thich Nhat Hanh. Thurgood Marshall. Robert Vorsteg

  5. Carol Freeman said, on May 11, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    I agree that you two should probably be more careful, but after all, he WAS Good Country People, I can tell.

    • helenofmarlowe said, on May 11, 2012 at 9:18 pm

      Your visit to my blog delights me! I was not sure which Flannery O’Conner character we have here, but I am sure Dillon come straight from O’Conner’s pen.
      My wonderful daughter-in-law approves of our (Bob’s) compassion here. This blog started an email conversation in which she said that she knows her children will do things that she doesn’t like or approve of but she hopes that “along the way that people are as compassionate as you guys are.”
      Lots of diversity here.

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