Friday, September 16, 2005

Cranky Old Man? Or Master of My Domain?

The following events took place yesterday between 6:00 and 6:30 pm.

6:01 - A knock on the door. I try to ignore it while exchanging instant messages and e-mails, along with watching SportsCenter.

6:02 - Another knock. I get up off my sick butt and open the door. Two 10-year-old boys look up at me, smiling.

Little Kid #1: Hey Mister! Can we rake your lawn for ten dollars?

Me: Ten dollars?

Little Kid #2: Yeah! We'll bring 'em to the road for ya. Ten dollars!

Me: Okay, we're not allowed to put leaves on the side of the road right now, so I can't do that. But if you rake the leaves and put 'em in a big pile next to my garage, I'll give you five dollars.

Little Kid #1: Five dollars?

Me: Hey, take it or leave it.

The Little Kids look at each other and shrug their shoulders.

Little Kid #1: Okay! Five dollars!

6:05 - I head back downstairs to my computer and TV. Outside my window, I hear leaves rustling, and the Little Kids laughing and yelling. My head throbs. Did I mention I'm sick?

6:07 - I peek outside. The Little Kids are running and jumping through the leaves. I get their money. Two one-dollar bills and two quarters apiece.

6:11 - A little less rustling from outside, a little less laughing and yelling.

6:15 - No more noise outside my window.

6:16 - A knock on the door. I get up off my sick butt and open the door. Two 10-year-old boys look up at me, not smiling anymore.

Little Kid #1: We're done, Mister!

Me: You're kidding.

Little Kid #2: No, we finished! Can we have our money?

Me: You guys are done? In ten minutes? Right. Let's take a look.

6:17 - One of the kids (I don't see which one) sighs. The three of us walk around my garage. I see 10 little piles of leaves, scattered all over the lawn.

Me: What is this?

Little Kid #1: You said put the leaves in piles.

Me: I said put the leaves in a pile. One. One pile. And next to the garage. These are all over the place.

Little Kid #2: The lady next door said she didn't want us touching her leaves in her yard.

Me: The lady next door?

Little Kid #2: Yeah.

Me: What does she have to do with me? All these little piles, I gotta rake 'em up. That means work for me. After I paid you to rake my lawn? I'm not paying you.

Both Little Kids: What?!

Me: I'm serious. I'm not paying you for this.

Little Kid #1: C'mon, man!

Me: "C'mon, man" what? You guys didn't do what you said you were gonna do.

Little Kid #2: You said you'd pay us!

Me: Okay, here's the deal. You guys help me put all these leaves into bags, I'll pay you.

Little Kid #1: Okay.

6:20 - I bring out four tall leaf bags. I begin to put leaves into one of the bags while the Little Kids watch me.

Me: Hey! C'mon. Let's do this.

6:21 - The three of us start filling the bags. I begin to wonder how long we'll be at this since neither kid can fit many leaves between his 10-year-old arms.

6:22 - Little Kid #2 displays some ingenuity by using his little shovel to scoop leaves into the bag.

Little Kid #1: Hey, you got another shovel?

Me: Sorry, kid.

6:25 - Little Kid #2 says, "Man, this is a lot of work!" I have to laugh. Then cough. Did I mention I'm sick?

6:28 - After we fill the fourth and final leaf bag, I say "Okay," and give each kid his money. They weakly slide the cash into their front pockets and walk with a stoop toward the front of the house. Both of their shoulders are slumped as they pick up their bikes.

Me: Have a good night, fellas.

Little Kid #1: You, too.

6:29 - The kids pedal their bikes down the street. I stand at the end of the driveway, waiting for one of them to turn back and give me the finger. But they just disappear around the corner. I go back into the house to watch TV.

On the next episode of "30": Will the kids' parents be coming over to have a word with Mr. Ian about how he treated their children?