I was sitting with my best friend Mike, enjoying an RC cola after we had thrown the football around awhile, when Mr. Jablonski drives up in his new gold colored Lincoln Towncar.
“That pickup belong to one of you boys?”
“Yes sir”, Mike replies, “it’s a 68 Datsun pickup…it aint pretty but she drives.”
“How would you boys like to make fifty bucks apiece cleaning up one of my vacant lots?”
“We’d love to, sir” Mike and I replied.
“It’s right behind the Safeway market on Strathern St. Just chop down all the weeds and clean up the trash and broken glass. It should take the better part of a day. Here’s 20 bucks up front to pay the dump fees…I’ll pay you rest after the job is done.”
“We’ve busted plenty of bott…” I nudge Mike in the side. “We know the lot”, Mike says. I ask Mr. Jablonski if we can start on it in the morning, and he says that would be just fine.
Mike and I show up at eight o’clock the next morning with a few yard tools we borrowed from home. We bought a bunch of hefty bags at the Safeway, and went to work.
It had to be the hottest day of the Summer and we busted our tails cutting and bagging the weeds, and cleaning up the broken glass, much of which we had honed our pitching skills in days past by placing an empty RC cola bottle on a rock and then betting who could be the first to break it with a rock at 30 paces. I was expert at this skill.
It’s about 3pm and we are bagging the last of the debris and loading it into the truck packed to the gills for the third time, when a guy walks up and says, “Hi guys, I’m Leon…Mr. Jablonski sent me over to help you clean up his vacant lot.”
We looked at each other in disbelief and said, “Well were just about finished, but you can pick up that broom and sweep off the sidewalk.” He did, and we went back to loading and tying down the truck.
A few minutes later Mr. Jablonski pulls up and without getting out of the car ays, “Fine job boys…fine job. That’s just what I was after! Come on over here boys.”
Dripping sweat and covered in dirt (except Leon), Mike and I…and Leon walk over to the driver’s side of the Towncar.
Mr. J. gives me 50 bucks…two twenties and a ten. He then gives Mike 50 bucks…two twenties and a ten. Mike says, “Mr. J., Leon just got here about 15 minutes ago.”
Mr. J. said, “I know, I know…I sent him over. I didn’t know how far along you boys would and I figured you could use a hand.” Leon stands there, almost embarrassed now, and then Mr. J. holds out the money, “Here Leon, take it.” It was two twenties and a ten, 50 bucks, just like we got for busting our rear ends all day long!
Mike and I looked at each other in disbelief. Mike started to say something and I nudged him in the ribs.
“See you boys, later…thanks for a job well done!” And Mr. J. drove away.
That feeling of accomplishment and pride that we were feeling was overtaken with our annoyance and puzzelment that Leon could waltz over here when we were almost done…and make the same amout as we did!
Leon was thrilled to death! He said, “that was the easiest 50 bucks I ever made in my life!”
We said our goodbyes, grumbling under our breath as Leon skipped down the street…and we headed to the dump.
No. That story did not happen. Not like that, anyway. I cleaned up a couple of vacant lots when I was younger, but the Leon scenario did not happen.
You probably recognized the ‘workers in the field parable’ right off the bat.
Isn’t this the way we are? Isn’t there some part of us that hates it when we strive and others don’t and yet they seem not to be punished, and they even make out as well, or sometimes better than we do?
Isn’t it hard for us to understand how God could be so gracious to little ones in baptism, without having to make any confession of faith or have any understanding at all, up front?
Do you ever feel like the two disgruntled boys felt?