The Hustle … Life’s Little Rewards.

Early in life, much like Lindsay LoHann I found out that I was not a good thief.  Got busted early on for shoplifting and figured out quickie pronto, that I did not want to do that anymore.  My old man showed me the errors of criminal my ways behind the woodshed. Believe his exact words as I recall were … “I aint living with no thief.”

My Dad taught me a great many things in my life, and I surely owe him for that.  He was one of the very first “helicopter parents.”  You screwed up, he would spin you around.  And he hit for distance. 

He preached out of the book of hard knocks, get off your lazy butt, and do it kind of lessons.  I remember the time I wanted a bicycle, he said, “Lord didn’t put me on this earth to buy bicycles.  You want a bike, go out and earn the money to do it.” 

So I started mowing lawns, collecting bottles for the return deposit, I did whatever I could to make some money.  My nickname in the neighborhood was “coins” believe it or not.  My favorite expression, “I need some coins, I want to go to the movies.” 

Worked hard and bought my own bike. 

Bought it from the paperboy, he wanted twelve dollars, I talked him down to nine.  My Dad came home from work and I said, “This is my new bike (used but new to me) and he said, “pretty good.  Let me take it for a spin.”  Pushing the envelope I looked at him and said, “buy your OWN bicycle” and he smiled and said, “You’re learning kid, your learning.” 

Then he went into the house.

Later on in life, I washed trucks, picked fruit off the tree, bag-boy, swept out the floor of the barbershop.  All of it to make some cash. 

The absolute best scam, was the lost dog thing.  I would spot a lost dog, coach him over, make friends with him and then take him home.  In those days you didn’t worry about rabies or being dog bit and all this PC crap was basically non-existent.  As I brought them home, one by one, I would show them to my Dad. 

He would say “What are you going to do with him?” and I would say, “I am gonna watch the paper, when they put in an ad for a lost dog, I will call them and return the dog for the reward.” 

Dad said, “How do you know there will be a reward?” and I just said, “Aw, I just know.”

This worked well.  If you wanted the dog, I would ask how much the reward was for the return of the animal.  If you said, “No reward.  Where is he?  I will come get him.” I would say, “When you want him back enough to pay the reward, I will bring him over.  I have been feeding him for five days.” (I believe the word for this is extortion.) They would reluctantly cough up the cash, usually ten dollars and I would hand over the dog.

Found a wallet once. 

A guy’s wallet, and he lived five miles from my home.  So I got on my bike and rode the five miles to his house and knocked on the door.  He opened the door and kind of growled at me, “Whadya want kid?” so I ventured, “I found your wallet sir, and I was returning it to you.” 

He in turn said “Thanks kid” and then slammed the door in my face.

Firmly knocking on the door, he again opens it up and says “What now?” Sheepishly I reply, “Well, it is five miles over here and I rode it, and there is a lot of money in your wallet ($44) and it is all there.  I was kind of expecting a reward of some kind.”

He says, “the thanks was your reward sport” and again shuts the door.

The next wallet I found, I fished out my reward, then I dropped it in the first mailbox I came across devoid of all cash. Which is what I will do today, some fifty-five-years later. 

Check all of the rat-holes, empty your stash, and then you get it back.

Life is sometimes a hard task master. Maybe that is why they say “Eat Your Dessert First ..”  I dunno.  When two people meet, one is selling and the other is buying, somewhere in the middle of all that, you will find that honesty has its price.

Which I believe is a hard knocks rule of life.

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