It was a fairly sunny day. Bruce, retiree, thought he’d sit on his veranda and have lunch. No one had phoned. No visitors had called in. He was on his own, so why not make lunch special and sit on the veranda and enjoy the sunshine?
But who is this coming through the gate? Three young guys, gangly teenagers, probably from the local high school. But they weren’t dressed for school; they were wearing work clothes.
“Good afternoon, sir,” they said.
“Goodness! Is it afternoon already?” How Bruce hated being called Sir. It made him feel old. It made him feel overbearingly authoritative.
“We’ve been bad boys at school,” said one of the lads. “The principal’s sent us out to do an hour of community work. Have you got any jobs?”
“You can mow my lawns,” said Bruce. Their faces dropped. “Don’t worry. It’s a ride on.”
The three young guys had the time of their lives; out of the classroom, working in the sun, driving the lawn mower, wielding the weed-eater, rotary-hoeing the garden, water-blasting the mossy paths… They were there for three hours. They loved it.
“You’ve made our day, sir,” they said. “It’s better than school. Can we come back?”
Bruce had supplied them with cold drinks throughout the afternoon.
(And I might add, they ate all of my birthday cake too. Finished it off in no time.)
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