He’s so predictable, in fact, that we can tell by where he is in the process whether we’ll be late to church or not.
If he’s mowing, we’re in good shape. If he’s edging, we’re running behind and likely to be late. If he’s already done, we’re toast.
There’s something comforting about knowing there are still people out there you can set a watch by; regardless of the heat or wind or rain, that guy is out on the corner taking care of his business.
Many Sundays while he’s already outside plugging away, we’re looking blearily at the alarm clock, trying to talk ourselves into getting out of bed. And our sons…well, talking softly and sweetly to them about getting out of bed on a Sunday morning isn’t going to get it done.
This guy isn’t the only example of dependability I run across, but that’s a quality that I find harder and harder to come by.
Job applicants and salespeople send e-mails and write letters saying they’ll give me a call, but usually they don’t. Service technicians on the telephone say they’ll stay on the phone until the problem is fixed, but most of the time they don’t. Kids say they’ll clean their room and make their beds, but many times they don’t. Co-workers say they’ll do their jobs, but sometimes they don’t.
And when called on the carpet for a perceived misdeed, the answer is generally predictable: “It’s not my fault,” or the even more disheartening: “It’s not my job.”
I think back now to my days growing up on a farm, and my dad was merciless about doing things right. Bales had to be stacked just so to prevent the stack from toppling; cattle had to be fed the right amounts at the right times to keep them healthy; machinery had to be repaired and maintained in tedious detail to prevent breakdowns.
When I would try to cut a corner, as I frequently did, my dad would call me out, pound home the importance of doing things right the first time and every time, and make me do it again.
Today, I remember those lessons, and I’m quick to spot that weakness in others. But much as I hate to admit it, I still see it in myself, too. I know what needs to be done, and I know what it takes to do it; sometimes, though, I just don’t feel like completing the job.
That’s why it’s inspiring, every Sunday morning, to turn the corner and see at least one person in my little corner of the world taking care of business the right way, week in and week out.
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