Submitted by Don Doman
I used to call him Scruffy Sam. He looked like he just got through with a hard day’s work. He was a little dirty and his beard was all over his face and wild. He came to our door and asked if we needed our lawn mowed. We did. I don’t remember if he used our mower or brought his own, but he did a good job.
He asked about mowing the yard again and I said, “I don’t know. Maybe two or three weeks.” I then forgot about the yard, but Sam didn’t forget. He would stop by about the time I suggested and mow. As we got used to each other I would either leave money in an envelope inside our storm porch or if I didn’t have cash when he came I would get the cash and leave it in the same place.
As time went on Sam would ask, “When do you want the grass cut again?” I would suggest an exact a day and in one of those little free daily planners that many businesses give out to their customers Sam would write down the date to mow our lawn. If Sam couldn’t keep the appointment, he would call to rebook. If he was running late, he would call to let us know he was running late.
One day our mower disappeared. It appeared the next time Sam mowed the lawn. This didn’t really bother me. As long as I knew where it was, I knew it would return. Sometimes we even had two mowers . . . I just laughed.
My wife and I had a big anniversary party planned in August. All family and friends were invited. Sam was invited. He asked if he could “work” at the party instead o fbeing a guest. He was a lifesaver at the party. He was everywhere. He made sure people had something to drink, whether it was punch, wine, or beer. Sam was constantly checking on people to see if they were hungry and would escort our friends over to the barbeque area where they could order hamburgers or hotdogs. He was everywhere. He greeted the entertainers and helped then with their equipment and any setting up they needed. People began asking about Sam and how nice we were to hire the homeless. We had never realized.
As the party neared the end of an eight hour run, I gave a check to Sam for two hundred dollars. He worked hard and he deserved it. Also, since he left at the end of the party, we sent a six-pack and leftover food with him in an extra duffel bag we had. Sam got a ride home with two of our close friends. Several days later we saw those friends. The four of us were on our way to a movie. They told us a story and returned our check.
Sam stayed across town underneath a bridge. He wanted to cash the check at a nearby grocery store, but was refused. He didn’t have two pieces of ID. My friends found an ATM and gave him his money in exchange for the check. He divided the money up into smaller combinations and placed the bills in his sock, a jean pocket, a shirt pocket, and a coat pocket and god knows where else . . . just in case he was robbed. The check came back to us as an anniversary present from our friends.
Sam is a hard worker and has been cleaning up his act since day one. His beard is trimmed and his clothes are presentable. As part of the county’s housing program Sam has a small apartment. He joined us for Thanksgiving. We sent home leftovers for friends and family, so of course we had sandwich bags of ham, turkey, potatoes, dressing, sweet potatoes, and punch for him. All the food was packed away in our duffel bag. Before he left, Sam thanked us and set up a date to mow one last time for the winter. He also left a phone number where he could be reached.
Sam had been a model entrepreneur and almost businessman throughout that time I knew him. He offered a service. He provided great customer service and communication. He always kept his word, showed up for his appointments, and showed his appreciation for the jobs I gave him. I wish everyone I did business with, was as nice and as hard working as Sam.
Jaynie Jones says
A great story and well-told. But what became of Sam? Is he still mowing your lawn? Are you still in contact? There has got to be more to his story.
Don Doman says
Eventually, Sam (not his real name of course) was thrown out of his apartment for fighting (drink was probably involved). Later he began to show up with a buddy and once ordered my wife to make them lunch. When he showed up with a group of people and looking for beer I asked him to leave. Ordering my wife around was the final straw. I have Nasim & Sons regularly mow our lawn. Actually, there’s a story there as well. Nasim and his Kurdish family came from Iraq. Son Niwar graduated from Wilson High and UWT. Niwar now runs the business and is being successful.
Julie Anderson says
Thanks for keeping it real. People are complicated. We swing between virtue and disgrace. Live in the moment.
You’re a good human Don. Sam too. Thanks for sharing.
Alyce Brame-Galyean says
I also would like to know about Sam. and who took that beautiful photo and or provided additions to said photo?
Don Doman says
I chose an image of a man who resembled my friend Sam, so there would be no copyright or invasion of privacy problem. I alter almost every image I use. That image will be given as a gift to my friends who cashed the $200 check that was given for the help at the anniversary party.
An amazing story! You two are so kind and Sam was lucky to have crossed paths with you.