The hour was about ten thirty p.m. when I finally retired to my bed after getting the baby to sleep. We had just settled on a house and I was quite exhausted. I had organized a worker to do repairs on the house and I berated myself for hiring someone in desperation. I hired someone who looked rather shocking. Tim had a ponytail, a silver earring, ripped jeans and came on a motorbike. He was not exactly the type of handyman I had imagined when I hired him on the phone. Yet, he gave me his credentials and he got the job.
The apartment was very quiet, I couldn't even hear the rowdy neighbors. I was sure my husband would be home much later as he had gone to a Chassidic gathering. Suddenly I heard a knock. I tried to tell myself it was my imagination, but the knock would not go away. I pretended I didn't hear it once more, when guilt took over. Maybe my neighbor was in trouble. Maybe my husband lost his keys. I forced myself out of my down quilt and put on a warm robe.
As I peeked into the keyhole I could see an old man with a flowing white beard. He held a parcel, and I could see he wanted to talk to me. I opened the door slowly and in a beautiful Yiddish he asked me to spare some money for a poor bride in Israel. My first instinct was to tell him honestly that my husband was not at home and I did not have any cash on me to spare. (In Australia we have a wonderful system known as electronic fund transfers, which makes it easy not to carry cash.)
Truth be told, I happened to have seventy dollars in cash as a workman was coming at seven thirty to get fees for doing some repairs. I felt guilty not giving any money, but at the same time the worker demanded his cash to be ready precisely at seven thirty a.m. the following morning. Somehow, the piercing eyes of the older man told me he was desperate, and I withdrew twenty dollars from my purse. I excused myself for not being able to spare any more money as I felt compelled to at least pay the worker something. The older man thanked me many times for my donation and heaped a bunch of beautiful blessings on me and my family.
As I closed the door, I felt proud of myself for trying to make a bride happy, hoping the worker the next morning would not be upset for receiving less than his due. I felt good about my decision and I went to bed feeling somewhat accomplished by having done a good deed. I pushed away the image of an angry worker yelling at me for not being organized. I conjured all kinds of excuses for Tim the handyman, and figured somehow everything would be alright. After all, I had tried to do a good deed!
Early the next morning,Tim arrived at precisely seven thirty a.m. Again, I reminded myself of my impulsive decision. I looked at him pleadingly as I was about to hand him part of his money when I braced myself for a mouthful.
Surprisingly, Tim said, "The job was so much easier than I expected, so I will charge you only fifty dollars, Ma'am.
Was I hearing correctly, was a worker undercharging me? How could this man be so honest looking the way he did! I almost expected him to charge me more! Besides, I was so glad I had given the money to a poor bride in Israel!
I learned two valuable lessons that day. Firstly, never judge a person by the way they dress, and secondly, you will never get harmed by doing a good deed. I have since referred Tim to my friends, with a quick story of course!