The other day my 13 year old son was out in the front yard pulling weeds, which is a weekly occurrence in the summer. He’s a good kid and took on the responsibility of cutting the grass, weed-whacking, trimming bushes and doing other yard maintenance. Carlos appreciates his help since he’s physically tired from work and our son does a good job.
So, the other day while our son was pulling weeds where the lawn meets the street, I didn’t think anything of it until I checked on him and found him engaged in a conversation with an elderly man who had stopped his car in the middle of the road. The man talked to him out of his rolled down window, my son stood with a hand on his hip, the other arm he pulled across his forehead to wipe off the sweat that rolled into his eyes. I figured the old man was asking for directions.
“Guess what?” my son said, coming into the house, the screen door slamming unintentionally behind him.
“That guy offered me a job cutting grass and pulling weeds at his house. He lives on the other side of the neighborhood.”
I was happy that my son had the potential to earn some spending money since he’s been bothering me lately about letting him get a job when he turns fourteen next month. (Carlos says it’s out of the question because he wants him to focus on his studies – but that’s a discussion for another day.)
While I was happy for our son, I couldn’t help but wonder if the elderly Caucasian gentleman would have stopped to ask the blond-haired white boy down the street to cut his grass if he’d seen him out pulling weeds. I’m not offended that the man asked, but I can’t pretend the question didn’t enter my mind. You could say I’m being too sensitive or too paranoid, except that last year when Carlos was out cutting the grass, another Caucasian neighbor stopped their car and called out to him.
“Excuse me!” he said, waving his arms to flag Carlos down.
Carlos shut off the mower and walked over to the car.
“Excuse me,” the man repeated, “Do you cut grass?”
Carlos took a moment to understand what this guy was thinking.
“I cut my own grass,” Carlos said, “This is my yard.”
“Oh,” the man said, “…Would you want to cut my grass? I’ve been looking for someone.”
“I’m sorry,” Carlos said, “I have enough work doing my own yard.”
“Okay, I understand,” the man said, “…Do you know anybody who would want to cut my grass? Do you have any friends that might want to?”
“No,” Carlos said, becoming annoyed.
“Oh, okay,” the man replied before driving away, “Thanks anyway.”
Would these Caucasian men have asked another random white person to come cut their grass? There’s really no way to know, but somehow I doubt it.