On Thursday afternoon I was on the way home from a fruitful but tiring day at the office when my wife called. She was a little distressed that two strangers were in our front yard picking up the pecans that had fallen from one of our mature pecan trees. I was only a few blocks from the house but sped up nonetheless. When I turned the corner sure enough there they were. A man and a woman. Both seemed a little “off” and as they saw me park they gave me the strangest looks. Neither were intimidated (I was going for that when I abruptly pulled in) or made any indication that they would stop what they were doing. While I’m not usually aggressive I was more than a little bit “torqued” that they not only were not slowing down their collection of MY pecans but they actually went faster gathering them!
Feeling a sense of justice overtake me I grabbed the man’s attention by raising my voice and asking, “Is this your property?”
“No” came the response.
“Are those your pecans?”
“No sir”, he mumbled.
That is more like it I though to myself as he showed a bit of contrition.
“They are my pecans and it looks like you are stealing them. I have told my son he could collect them to earn money for Christmas.” I said with parental pride in the fact that I was training my son the value of hard work.
Then I launched into a lecture about asking first, and if they had of just asked they could have had all the pecans they could carry. But now it was too late and I needed them to leave the neighborhood.
Yep, I actually banished them from the neighborhood!
The man’s eyes and whole demeanor changed and he apologized and they quickly got on their bikes and left.
Today (Saturday) my son and I raked leaves in our backyard. He worked hard and I explained to him that “today is the day” and if he would pick up the pecans that had fallen from the trees we would take them to the local “Pecan Shed” and sell them. He could keep the money he made for Christmas like I had promised.
He collected several bags full from our backyard and with anticipation loaded the pecans and climbed into my truck. After the short drive we arrived at the “Pecan Shed” about 15 minutes before they were to close for the weekend. Both of us were a little bit excited to see what my son’s hard work had earned him.
“Five bags of pecans should get you something”, I said with a smile and gentle shove.
He just smiled back a smile of satisfaction that hard work brings.
Upon entering the warehouse we were greeted by clean cut men in jeans and boots who showed us how the whole show works. Examine the pecans, weigh them and get paid!
As we looked around at the other folks there I noticed that they all looked a lot like the man and woman in my front yard two days before. All were weathered, distant and a little dirty. They all seemed down and anxious about what their bags of pecans might bring. All (or certainly most) appeared to be folks who needed this money for things a whole lot more serious that extra cash for Christmas. They seemed to need it to live. (I get that some were in this situation because of addictions and bad choices but c’mon)
My son noticed it too. He was quiet when we went back to the truck. I was expecting him to be more excited about his $4.95 payday but he is a smart 10 year old. He was aware of the situations that surrounded him.
As we drove home the conversation was muted. I was trying to deal with my arrogance without throwing up!
How could I have the audacity to lecture a homeless couple about the etiquette of picking someone’s pecans?
Why did I tell them that these pecans were for my son and not for them? My son has everything he needs and then some. I felt like a spoiled, snotty little child who was unwilling to share his candy.
I asked God to forgive me. Sure hope I get another chance…
Not exactly my best.