It began with a little experience and a large get-rich dream. We started out mowing one lawn. It grew to two. Soon that doubled and in months we were doing landscaping for many houses in the tract. We worked every Saturday, only Saturday. We had money to burn. We were rich. We were 12 years old.
The Saturdays were full and the work was hard. The work was strenuous, dirty and we often worked until after dinner. Keith would run the gas-powered edger (an investment we made after quickly tiring of the manual version) while I mowed the yard. When he finished he would begin sweeping up the cut grass. We cleaned up leaves and clippings rather than blowing them into the yard of someone else. I have only good memories of those workdays. I’m guessing there are good reasons for that beyond failing memory.
I worked with my best friend. Certainly we got stressed out and had the occasional argument. He usually won---because he could pull the, “It’s my dad’s lawnmower” card. We argued about pricing too; he hated telling homeowners we were raising our rates. Whenever the time came to ask for more money I was the one that had to do the speaking.
We were our own bosses. If we were going on vacation we could just change our workday. We didn’t have to answer to any board or boss. If we wanted to take a ten minute break we could. If we wanted to take a three-hour break and work until nine-we could (at least during the summer months).
We spent our earnings on whatever we wanted. Most weekends we wanted candy. We would walk down the street to J.C. Penney where they had large display cases filled with candy; non-pariels, butter-toffee peanuts, chocolate haystacks; heavenly. Nobody made us put a portion of our earnings away for retirement. We didn’t pay taxes and we didn’t worry about healthcare.
Why does work seem like, well, work now then? Is there anything I can take away from this when I roll out of bed these next days? There seems to be an answer in the Saturdays, the candy, and in the freedom. Being a kid and working Saturdays allowed plenty of time for rest. Rest is difficult now; I fight against it. I burn the candle, I make excuses to keep busy. Physical rest and soul rest come hard.
I need to spend more money. Really I spend plenty---it’s that I need to allow myself to blow a chunk of change on something that is fun even if its fleeting. Relax, enjoy life, don’t worry so much. That’s the real ticket I think. Yeah, I have to show up for work. But it’s my Dads’ lawnmower I’m pushing.
Photo courtesy of Hot Meteor