Lesson learned

Matthew 18:15-17

He was out of work and I felt sorry for him. We needed a few odd jobs done around the house and the garden fence needed painting. I hired him and gave explicit instructions, especially about how to go about painting the chain link fence. I gave him rollers, trays, and silver paint, and asked him to be careful it didn’t drip.

I paid him up front. (Stupid, stupid, stupid).

I came home to find that he’d tried to save some time by spray painting the fence. I was stunned.

On one side of the house he’d sprayed my neighbours car, their front gate, their lawn, and kitchen wall. On the other side he’d sprayed their son’s bike and their garden furniture. My own garden looked like some kind of psychotic shopping mall grotto, the kind you’d find on a very camp 1960’s Christmas card. As the breeze blew through the garden the plant life twinkled green and silver like two tone tinsel. The fence, however, was only silver in patches.

As calmly as I could (shaking with anger) I told him about how I felt. He offered to put it all right.

The neighbours were really nice, but I felt terrible. I bought the kid some football gear in recompense. My other neighbours were immigrants and it took me a few weeks to catch someone who spoke English. They said it was OK and didn’t want any fuss. I couldn’t afford to have their car re-sprayed and they never mentioned it. I did cut back the grass and repaint their gate.

After a few weeks the workman had still not fixed anything or finished the fence. I went to visit him with my partner. He was very apologetic, accepted liability, and said he’d fix everything.

Weeks went by, and then months, and he never did.

Of course, I never gave him work again.

Or money.

“If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Matthew 18:15-17

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