Thursday, May 16, 2013

Menial Labor

The assignment: Walk 8 minutes to the nearest mailbox, dump two letters in the chute, go back home. Bills paid, some degree of exercise attained.

Then there was the walk home. Suddenly I hear "Yoohoo?!"

I turn to see an elderly woman waving me over to her. My first instinct, as it is with most strangers who try to approach me, is: "Walk away. Who knows what this cold lead to?" This is how violent scenes in spy novels and movies like Ironman3 start. Then I notice that she looks like a stiff breeze could knock her over. Maybe it's a good risk.

She asks me to fold up a rug that is too big and heavy for her and put it in the back seat of her car. I really don't want to do this. But there's no legitimate excuse for me: I have nowhere to be for a few hours, it's a nice day and she clearly can't do this by herself. To say no would be to be a jerk.

So I do it. Then she points to another rug. And another. And another. Pretty soon I've moved four rugs into her back seat, four more into her garage, and thrown one welcome mat in the trash. It's been 10 minutes -- certainly not an eternity by any stretch, but it's more than I bargained for, and at some point I'd like to eat lunch.

Finally after all that, she asks: "Would you like something for that?"


"Just a minute." She walks inside, and emerges a couple of minutes later with $1. "Go buy yourself a can of soda with this."

For 10 minutes of work, at Massachusetts minimum wage ($8/hr.), I really shouldn't accept less than $1.33 for this. Also, a can of soda at most places (with $0.05 deposit attached) is $1.04, so I would still need the pennies. But whatevs. This was my good deed for the day. And I made it home alive.


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