I know that someday you'll find better things.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Neighbors' Briefs

On days that we’d walk home from school, we would try to help our neighbors by stacking the daily free Dallas Briefing newspapers to reduce trip hazards for the owners and passers-by. When too many briefs piled up, a week’s worth, maybe, I’d enlist the kids’ help in gathering them up and bringing them home.

“Are we stealing?” Caleb asked, a little too loudly, the first time we did this.
“We most assuredly are not,” I replied, a little too emphatically, perhaps.
“But we’re taking something that belongs to someone else. That’s stealing,” Mia chimed in, a little too morally conscientious for the situation, if you ask me.

“We are doing a kind and helpful deed for our neighbors. What if they’re out of town? Having all these papers in their front yard is practically advertising to the burglars. It’s an invitation to be robbed. By gathering them up, we are doing the neighborly thing.”

They were not convinced. I had to offer further proof.

“Plus, we’re saving the earth by recycling these papers and the bags they came in. When free things-- like this newspaper and those pizza ads-- get loose on the lawn, it’s practically littering. Do you want to just stand by and watch while the neighborhood gets all littery?”

Just as I’d hoped, this seemed to satisfy their suspicion. They gathered them up and we continued walking toward home. When we arrived at the house, they started toward the recycling bins out back.

“Wait!” I called out. “Don’t throw those out. I need to sort through them first. We need to thank ourselves for this act of kindness by keeping their coupons.”

Mia and Caleb set the papers down, mirrored “I told you so” faces, and went inside.

“I’m sure they wouldn’t mind—after all, we just kept their houses safe from burglars!” I called after them. While I combed through the circulars for the coupons, I sent up a silent prayer that they wouldn’t grow up to be juvenile delinquents.

Frugal delinquents are far superior to the traditional juvenile variety, anyway.

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