I met Christopher today! He gave me permission to use his picture (even posed for me) and his first name. I asked him a lot of questions and he said I could share about him freely.
How did we meet? He knocked on my door. He does yard work for a neighbour who knows I want to do things in my yard but can’t afford to pay a lot for help. She sent him to see if I needed help. He timidly introduced himself, told me what work he had done in her yard and let me know he would do work in my yard for whatever I could offer because he really likes to help people.
I showed him around my yard.
I told him what plans I had for the area and what kind of work I needed done to get started but couldn’t do myself. He asked if I had anything he could do today? He could use smokes.
Absolutely! I have an area I want to put my fire pit but it needs to have some roots pulled out. I want it to be as level as possible before I put in gravel for the fire pit to sit on. I have a machete and a spade. He said he’d try to do what he could.
He worked hard for about an hour before I pulled him off the task. Even though he was doing a terrific job, he didn’t have the right tools. Not his fault. He told me he has a pick axe that he could bring back sometime and finish up. I assured him I will definitely have him come work for me because he worked hard the entire time. I made sure he had his smokes plus a bit of cash for his work. And the area is much more level, despite one stubborn root!
We sat in my RV, after he was done, and talked for a bit. He could see the vision I have for my yard. I had mentioned areas I will need to get mulch to fill things in. His idea? Use his pick axe to break up the root areas I need removed and then shovel that to where I need mulch. He showed me two different ways he could create my sitting area. He gave me ideas for how to build the step up to my hammock. His ideas for how to level things and re-purpose the torn out stuff in other areas? Brilliant!
During his introduction Christopher had told me he needs to be supervised while working. Reasonably, before I had him start working, I went up my neighbour and got a quick reference. She told me he works hard but not to offer him alcohol. That’s fine.
During our conversation after he had worked, and I could see he works hard, I asked him why he needs supervision and why I was told not to offer him alcohol.
Christopher has a brain injury. He was damaged in the womb. He also went through a vehicular accident at a month old that left him injured for life.He went to school but admits he only reads at a Grade 3 level. His math is about Grade 7. You can tell when talking with him that he has had a brain injury. But you can also tell he has tried very hard to learn. He articulates himself well.
I was amazed at how open he was talking about it. He told me how he knows he can’t do certain jobs. He’s very proud that he can do all kinds of physical work, which he can. He’s proud of his creativity. As he explained the things he could do to help in my yard his eyes lit up. He mentioned he was instrumental in the work that went into building this park. He told me he thinks of himself as an artist when he is working in the yard.
He also told me he knows I have a limited income, like him. But his needs aren’t many. A pack of smokes here and there. Cook him dinner after he’s worked in the yard and send him home with a couple bucks in his pocket. He is as excited about my yard as I am. He knows he can help me with my yard like I can help him with homemade meals.
It all sounds like a perfect match, right?
After he left I went up to another neighbours. The park owner was there. Because Christopher had helped build this place? I asked the owner about him.
He didn’t tell me anything Christopher hadn’t already told me. Except for some things I suspected.
For example, he’s unreliable. That comes with health issues. The park owner understands that and is part of why he tried to give Christopher work. He did say that when Christopher IS there he works hard and has talent!
I was told Christopher is known for having a drug problem. That comes with poverty and a life of rejection, prescription meds etc. I suspected this because I have a personal history with drugs and I can tell signs of addiction. I just protected myself and my home appropriately. But it makes him a questionable character where I live. Something important to factor in.
He should be supervised at all times. I was told that by Christopher himself. He shouldn’t drink while he is working. I already knew that too.
Some other neighbours chimed in with their ideas that he shouldn’t be allowed in the park at all. The park owner told me Christopher had been seen skulking about and had, at one time, been banned.
I told the owner I wouldn’t have Christopher come back if he wasn’t allowed. Other neighbours were happy with that idea.
But the owner? He sees the kindness in my heart and he has kindness in his own. He told me I could have Christopher come and do a few things in my yard as long as I supervised him and walked him out of the park when he was done. He knows Christopher needs the bit of help, I could use the ‘grunt’ work and the quality of work I’ll get!
I have no issue with helping someone who has an addiction until the moment they use that to hurt me. I understand the risks. He was open with me and gave me references he knew would be honest. And he needs help as much as I do.
I can’t give him alcohol, so I won’t drink around him. That’s good for me! I want to help in my yard as much as he wants to work in it so he’ll be supervised and I’ll get exercise. That’s good for me! He is open and honest so I think I can learn some things about how to approach my own life from him! Good for me.
So? I have a landscaper. His name is Christopher.