“How much do you think I should pay you?”
“Oh, I don’t know. Whatever you want.”
“Did you do a good job?”
“Yes. Why yes I think I did.”
The old man and I stood side by side on top of that hill in his front lawn. We stood together admiring my work. The work that I just described above and the work that took me hours to complete. We stood there together, as working men, contemplating that leaf covered front lawn – and we smiled. Smiled at the lawn and smiled at each other.
“Did you make that pile?”
“Yes I did. Do you like it?”
“I think I do. And that’s why I’m going to pay you for today. I’m going to pay you for all the work you completed.”
“Why thank you sir.”
Now I was really getting excited.
And the old man reached into his pocket. He reached in there nice and slowly – dramatically if you will – and pulled out a bigger wad of cash than I had ever seen – ever seen in my entire life. That old man had a big wad of cash sitting right there in his hand, the very hand that was no more than mere inches from my face.
You should have seen me. Looking at that cash, standing with my chin held high, so high I could smell the sweetness of all that money floating towards me. Floating through the air of that autumn day, directly towards my nose – wrapping its little fingers around its tip and making its way right up my nostrils.
My eyelids began to feel very heavy. I stood next to that money and closed my eyes half way as I waited and listened to that old man’s bony fingers flip through the dry, crisp cash. The ones, fives, tens, fifties and the hundreds. I swear I had never seen or felt anything like it.
“Well here you go son.” with his soft German accent.
I lazily held out my hand as my fingertips slowly curled towards my wrist. I couldn’t wait. I still wasn’t looking, but I couldn’t wait. The anticipation was killing me. My knees nearly buckled as I felt the weight of those bills fall ever so gracefully into my tiny palm. Was it twenty, forty, sixty…a hundred? Holy cow I couldn’t take it for one second more.
So I finally looked down. Down at my palm and down to see six dollars. Six singles. The old man had paid me six dollars for a day’s worth of work. Six dollars. And to this day, my father has yet to find a way to live this down.