Monday, March 28, 2011

A special place

For more than 30 years my wife’s Uncle Murray lived in a three-room cabin northeast of DeQueen, Ark. Murray built the cabin, from foundation to metal roof. The cabin had a living room/bedroom, kitchen/dining room and a small storage room. There was propane for the kitchen stove and a well in the front yard, with rope and pulley and bucket for drawing water. For heat, Murray had an old fashioned wood-burning stove.

One day when Murray was in his late 60s, two men drove up the oil-top driveway from the highway. One of the men said he noticed Murray’s driveway had some worn places and could use filling. The man said he and the other man had just finished working on somebody else’s driveway and had oil left from that work and could do Murray’s driveway for a certain price. Murray said that sounded like a good price. The two men went to work and Murray went back to his woodwork in the barn out back.

After a while, the two men told Murray they were finished, but it took more oil than they thought, so Murray owed them $200 more. Murray said that was not what he agreed to pay. The two men kind of moved in on him. Feeling threatened, Murray wrote a check for the amount the men demanded.

About an hour later, Murray got a call from a bank teller in town. The teller said the two men brought in the check and wanted cash. The teller said there was something just not right, so she told the two men the bank could not cash the check. She asked if Murray wanted to void the check. Murray had inspected the driveway and determined the two men had done nothing but pour motor oil in a couple of places. He told the teller to void the check.

A couple of years ago my mother-in-law went to the Ford place in Texarkana. She told a salesman she wanted to look at the Ford 500. My wife had bought a Mercury Montego and recommended it or the 500 to her mother. The salesman said to my mother-in-law, “Have you considered a Lincoln?” My mother-in-law said she had not, nor did she want a Lincoln. The salesman then began praising the Lincoln and all its advantages over a Ford 500. He most likely saw an elderly woman who could be talked into buying up. The more he talked, the more my mother-in-law said she didn’t want a Lincoln. The salesman was joined by his supervisor, and they double-teamed my mother-in-law. After a bit of that, she said, “Thank you,” and went to the Chevrolet place and bought an Impala. She wrote out a check for the full amount.

About five weeks ago, a man knocked on my mother-in-law’s door. He said he noticed the stone work at the front of her house was dirty, and he and his helper would be glad to clean it for a certain amount. My mother-in-law agreed. After the work was finished, the man said a couple of pieces of metal siding were loose, and he could glue them back. My mother-in-law agreed. When the man finished, he said the work took two tubes of special glue, and the tubes were $250 each. My mother-in-law gave the man a check for cleaning and gluing, $500 more than the cost of cleaning the rock.

Two days after that, my mother-in-law arrived home from her volunteer work and church and found the man and his helper on her roof. The man said he noticed her vents were loose, and he could tighten and caulk the vents. My mother-in-law agreed. That time, the man did not discover additional work needing the $250 glue.

The man gave my mother-in-law a receipt for both jobs. The next time I’m there, I think I’ll give the man a call, maybe a visit. My wife, when hearing of the repairs, told her mother to call the police if the man comes around again.

The Bible many times enjoins taking care of widows and orphans. There is a special place in Hell for those who bully and take advantage of old people.

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