Posted by: Brenda Kula | April 2, 2008

Azaleas In My Neighborhood

This is what my cul-de-sac looks like right now. My house is the very first one.

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Across the street.

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Two doors down from me below.

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They still aren’t real lush yet, but you get the picture. Now, if you want to know where I’ve been the past couple of days, I will post that little story on a continuation page. It’s a tale of how a man came to my door needing work last week, and what transpired.

One day last week, a guy in his forties came to my door with his resume in hand. I’d met him a few times, as he’d worked for a company who’d done work on my home. He was looking for work and said he did remodeling and a little bit of everything. I want you, my blogger friends, to tell me what you’d have done in this case, as I’m kind of scratching my head here.

I feel that I sort of know him, as he’s been inside my house several times already and seemed okay, so I decide he can start by seeing if he can help me with my pond. I normally do all the work on the pond, but I was having problems with the filter that I couldn’t handle. I’d called all around for help in the Yellow Pages. Though people will build you a pond; for some reason they aren’t anxious to come help keep them in operating condition.

He says he can fix it. But we have to go to Lowes to look for parts. In the Lowes shopping center, I take him to lunch in my car. I tell him I don’t have any cash, and will put our meals (Chick Filet) on my debit card and call it part of the deal. I am starving at this point, and hate to shop when I’m starving, as I tend to either make a mistake or buy everything.

He is very willing to do anything I ask for help with. He fixes some other things I need fixing. He appears to just be down on his luck. He is nice-looking; in fact a body builder. He tells me about his divorce long ago, his teenaged daughter. We talk as we work alongside one another in my yard all afternoon. He tells me all about his childhood. How his mother got murdered when he was a toddler. He has had it tough. I can commiserate.

He is personable, seemingly dependable and bright. I tell him I need gravel brought in for my side yard. He has a pickup. Would he like the job?

He comes back two days ago. We go buy gravel. I spread it in my yard. We need more. The next day he is back. We go back to buy more gravel. He shovels it out and brings it to the yard. I don’t mind hard work. I spread it out again. Probably an hour or so’s work. I have now given him three checks. A total of $225.

My neighbor Walli has come over and met him. Asks him to come look at her place. Of course she and I had sat over coffee yesterday and tsk-tsked about this poor motherless guy whose father married seven times, and twice married strippers. This prominent father in another town from which this guy has just relocated. She asks me yesterday, "Brenda, are we going to adopt him?" I say probably. We are now planning on what all we can scavenge around our homes to give to him. You know how we women are, wanting to help and mother everyone.

Yesterday afternoon I go with my husband to town for errands. Meanwhile I see him in Walli’s yard talking about what he can do over there. Her husband is home. I feel okay about things.

At two a.m. this morning, I receive a phone call from him. His brother, he says, has had a car accident in another town. He needs to get to him. He has used my money for his rent. Can I spare him gas money? I’m feeling disoriented from my nightly Ambien and wondering if this isn’t just a dream. I find myself at my front gate a few minutes later with a ten dollar bill. I tell him that’s all I have. I don’t keep cash around much.

This morning I’m confused and a little concerned. I didn’t get much sleep after that. My husband is angry, as he is a psychiatrist and knows what people usually need when they wake someone they barely know in the dead of night for money.

I decide to call Walli and warn her. Then I call the company from which I met him in the first place. A place he obviously no longer works for. He had told me he was starting a new job this morning. I’m doubtful he has, as he’s been up all night.

They are reluctant to tell me anything, other than they let him go. I tell them he has been working for me. The secretary, whom I’ve never met, tells me before she thinks about it not to let him in my door. I am panicking now, as he is due at Walli’s house this evening to start work there. The secretary says she cannot say more, and I plead that I have elderly neighbors at stake here. I am a Meals On Wheels volunteer, for heavens sake, and I know how vulnerable older people can be. She puts me through to the boss.

The boss talks to me, as I am a good customer. He thought him very capable and bright. Spent a lot of money training him. Thought he was really going places. But said, "I believe he has a real monkey on his back." We both know what this means. Or assume we do. Drugs. Yet the boss had checked him out pretty thoroughly. More head scratching, on both ends of the phone I’m sure.

He feels bad that I met this guy through his crew working here. I tell him I feel duped. He says he did too. We both feel that this guy is a good person, and willing to work. But apparently he borrowed money from everyone there. Ran out of money as soon as he cashed his paycheck.

About this time my I see another call coming in. It is this guy we’re speaking of. I don’t take the call. My cell phone starts ringing. I see it’s him and don’t answer it. About this time Walli walks over and is sitting on my couch. I am relating all this to her as I sip my morning cup of coffee, for which I now feel an absolute need for.

Then I look up and see this guy staring through my dining room window. What do I do? I tell Walli to stay put, as she has not been seen. I grab my phone, as I am sitting right here at my desk. And I head outside, heart thudding.

He is so sorry about last night. I was the only person he knew to turn to. I tell him my husband doesn’t want him working here any more. He does not trust him, as he called us in the middle of the night needing money when we’d just given him so much. He pleads with me. What happened to his other job, I’m wondering?

He wants to at least get to discuss this with my husband. I say fine. He says he doesn’t have any paper to write the number down on. (I’m thinking, when I gave you my number, you simply put it on your cell phone.) I’m not taking him inside again. I already feel like a dunce for having done so. Gone some place twice in his vehicle. Once in mine. Everything.

I walk toward the front gate. He tries to memorize the number, as I’m obviously not letting him inside. I do feel bad. I like the guy. But this is very tricky territory here. He leaves. I breathe a sigh of relief, but am still worried.

I just lost a handyman a few months ago to drugs. He and his very young girlfriend are awaiting trial for letting his girlfriend’s baby die in the bathtub. With an apartment full of drugs laying around in baggies. They both are in jail. The little brother was in the bathtub with him when he drowned while they sat in the other room. I wrote about all this back in January, if you want to read the entire story. The man is 46 years old, close to my age, with grandchildren. The girlfriend was 21. Hello?

I had had this man work for me for several years doing odd jobs. I had no idea. None. He had led the police on a high speed chase in his pickup 24 hours before that nine month old boy died face down in the tub. He apparently was so high when the police cornered him they had to taser him. This has all set heavy on my heart since I saw the whole thing on the evening news. This guy couldn’t keep his money either. Always losing it. The other day I was driving through town and saw this guy’s father, who had no one left but him, standing in the doorway of his store, looking disconsolate.

So I don’t have much luck with men who work at my residence. The guy who comes around to wash windows, and who made a mess of my gutters, was across the street working this morning. I’m told he has a penchant for stripping down to his shorts in the middle of the street to put on his work clothes. What is it about this perfectly normal neighborhood with mostly retired residents that seems to bring out all this absurdity? I’m sure it’s just what I said. I am probably about the youngest person here at 51, and everyone knows how older people get suckered.

So he’s due at Walli’s in a few hours. I don’t know what to do. She’s willing, if he shows up, to let him do some work in her kitchen. Her husband will be there. I have not heard anymore from him since his impromptu visit this morning.

If you’ve managed to read this crazy story thus far, please give me your thoughts.

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Responses

  1. Brenda, I honestly don’t know. If he is not wanted for anything, the police can’t help you. But maybe a call to them to see if any one has complained about him. I’d for sure keep an eye on your neighbor’s place and be sure to tell them again-no money except for what he has worked for. I hope it works out.

  2. my goodness I was reading this thinking I’d get to the end and read that it was a joke. I feel bad for you. good luck

  3. Sheesh, I’d say better safe than sorry and your gut is telling you “no”. Go with the gut!

    The awful story can’t derail me from commenting on the amazing photos! I’m out scrounging for any sign of life in my yard and you have all that! I am envious!


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