A LESSON IN HUMILITY
Yesterday, a neighbor from the end of the road stopped by to ask me if I would give him a hand clearing out some brush between his cabin and the lake. He offered me fifteen bucks an hour and I said “Sure, Jerry, I’ve got nothing else to do today.”
Jerry is a 75 year old man. He stands about five feet six inches, wide shoulders and a full head of white hair tucked under a ball cap. Sporting the usual jeans and a flannel shirt, he spun about and we jumped in his truck.
When we got to his place we went right to work. He grabbed the chainsaw and I started to pile the trimmings on the trailer. Once the trailer was piled up high, he drove around to the back next to the lakeshore where he had a nice fire going. Everything went on the fire and back to the brush pile we went for another load.
After two hours of this regiment, my lower back muscles had begun to complain. My right knee was giving me some grief, and a juicy blister had begun to form on my left hand between my thumb and forefinger from all of the raking. It seemed as though Mr. Construction had become mighty soft after a few years of unemployment.
I glanced over at Jerry to see how he was fairing, and the cantankerous s.o.b. was hacking away like a madman. “Well I can’t have this!” I thought to myself, and I started loading the trailer doubletime. Another large area cleared out and it was back to the burn pile.
I threw some rather wet clumps on top of the fire and a huge plume of smoke began to churn out of the pit. Just as I was about to tell Jerry that we need to get the flames rolling again, I saw the gush of liquid streaming through the air past my head and going straight for the center of the fire. Before I could turn my back to the flames, “WOOOSH!” I had tried to turn without looking at my feet first and tripped on a log, smacking my knee on a rock as I hit the ground.
“That ought to stop that Goddamn smoke” He mumbled as I laid on the ground rubbing my knee like a six year old idiot who fell off his bike.
We finished out the project a short time later. Five trailer loads and three hours total (that felt more like a week). There was no way in hell I was going to look like a sissy in this guy’s eyes, but I’ll tell you, never underestimate a seventy five year old man in the U. P., he’ll beat your ass.