After helping a neighbor with chores, three teenage boys watch TV, eat pizza, and talk..
"Br-rr-ring," went the kitchen timer, signaling the time had arrived for the boys to go. All good things must end. They had spent many hours at physical labor in the summer heat. At just before midnight, my kitchen timer sounded the prearranged notice.
"That's the bell guys. Class dismissed," I declared, attempting humor. Though I had been a teacher many years before, I wasn't their teacher now, nor were we in a classroom.. We'd spent the afternoon moving my furniture, and many boxes of stuff, in advance of the carpet cleaning company. One pack rat can accumulate a lot of stuff in a lifetime. The older I get, the more stuff I feel I need to keep.
They had worked for four or five hours sweating, drinking water, and sweating some more. I was impressed with their stamina. The temperature was in the nineties and the wind blew lightly through the garage doors.
They were impressed that they were getting paid cash for helping me rearrange my household belongings. If you can find a 17 year-old who wants to earn some money, you practically have a captive slave. This household project had been graced with three, eager to follow any directions I gave.
The hours had been filled with the laughter and stories shared among good friends. Even though I was the older neighbor woman, who did more listening than talking, I felt I had a kind of special friendship with my neighbor and his two friends when the job was done. Like most adults, most of my friends are adult. They felt like friends,
The three young men rose from their various seated positions, choreographed in unison, proving those years of school bell Pavlovian conditioning does indeed work.
Although I had been away from teaching for several years, I found it impossible to change some of my behaviors. My words and actions were as automatic as the boys' bell conditioning.
Jay, Gabriel, and David rose from their seats, and fell into single file, exiting the large living room area through the screen, and out the front door into the darkness and heat of the summer night. Behind them, they left empty mugs of orange cappuccino, and ashtrays with several hours' worth of cigarette butts.
They left with sweat and dog hairs stuck to their clothes, smiles on their faces, and a good feeling in their hearts. Their pockets were a bit heavier for the effort, which made it worthwhile for all parties involved. They'd help me accomplish a job I couldn’t have done alone.
I suppose they felt as good about the day's efforts as I did. The accomplishment of a heavyweight household task feels good to me. A woman who lives alone in a house needs "guy" help sometime. I really did appreciate their help, and I knew they appreciated the green money they earned for their efforts. I thought things had worked out well for all of us. I nudged "Elvis" out of the doorway, and closed the front door to the night. My hound dog had an active day, and he was tired too. He walked to his sleeping area in the hall, and I turned out the lights in the living room.
Some of my furniture, and many boxes, had been moved from all different parts of the house into one area in exactly one-half of my two-car garage. I couldn't have been ready for the carpet cleaning company without the boys' help.
I was glad I knew a neighbor kid, and that he had strong friends. I thought that perhaps we might be able to help each other somehow in the future. It's nice to have teenage friends.