Photo credit: Roger Smith (Creative Commons)

Preface:  An entertaining bedtime story providing some fundamental lessons of life for your children, such as work ethic, honesty, responsibility, and simple business principles.  Ages recommended:  6-10.

 

Once upon a time there was a fine young boy named Andy Workman who lived with his parents in Freedomville, a small town with a school, a library, a fire station, a police department, and many stores.  In Freedomville, everyone was given an equal chance to work and live as they wanted to.

Andy was proud of his school. His teachers thought he was special as he learned his lessons quickly, studied at night, and always completed his homework on time.  He also loved to read and went to the library regularly or visited the local book store.  He was fond of books about adventure, travel to foreign lands, and humor.  His favorite books though were about mechanics and how to build or fix things.

Andy’s parents thought he was special too.  Although they didn’t have much, they were proud of their small home and kept it clean.  Everyone worked hard around the house.  Andy’s job was to mow the lawn and sweep the garage.  Even though Andy was only eleven, he did a very good job.  So much so, his father would give him a small weekly allowance which Andy would save.

The neighbors were so impressed by how Andy mowed his father’s lawn that one-by-one they began to hire him to mow their lawns as well.  Andy worked hard and did a good job which impressed the neighbors.  He would never let them down and the neighbors paid Andy for his hard work which he would save with his allowance.

One day, Andy’s Dad asked him, “What are you going to do with all your money?”

“I’m thinking of a couple of things Dad; first, I want to buy a new bicycle to ride to school. And I want to buy Mister Smithers’ old lawn mower which I want to fix up.”

“But then you’ll have two lawn mowers,” Andy’s Dad said, “You cannot push two mowers can you?”

“That’s right.  My friend Tommy is going to work with me and we’ll be able to mow more lawns and make more money.”

So, Andy bought his new bike and the old lawn mower which he fixed up.

Shortly thereafter, Andy and his friend Tommy were mowing all of the lawns on his block and earned a lot of money for their efforts.  Andy saved his money but occasionally would buy a book to read.

Andy’s new bike was big, shiny and fast.  Everyone at school liked it, including Sammy Servant, the bully of the class.  Sammy was bigger than Andy and he would scare a lot of kids. He would often demand lunch money from the other kids for his cousin, Harry Havenot, a lazy thug who was smaller than Sammy and not very smart.

When Sammy spotted the new bike, he called Andy over to him.

“I noticed your bike Andy,” Sammy said.  “You know my cousin Harry only has an old bike that doesn’t work too well.”

Andy knew of the worthless bike which was the joke of the school.

Sammy went on, “You seem to be doing pretty well with your lawn service and have more money than both Harry and I.  I think it would only be fair that you trade your bike for Harry’s, don’t you?” and he looked at Andy menacingly.

Of course Andy didn’t think it was fair but was afraid to fight Sammy, and he traded his bike for Harry’s.

Somehow Andy was able to peddle the old bicycle home, but it wasn’t easy as the chain kept falling off.  When he got home, he took the bike apart in his garage, fixed it, and cleaned it up.  He even painted it.  To Andy, it seemed nobody had ever taken care of the bike. When he was done, it didn’t look too bad.  It drove fine and was no longer an embarrassment.

Andy did not hear his father come up behind him in the garage.  “Whose bike is this Andy?” he asked, “And where is your new one?”

Andy gulped as he was ashamed how he let Sammy Servant bully him.  “Well Dad, it’s like this…” and he confessed the problem to him.

“Well this will never do,” said the father and he called the school principal to discuss the problem. When he was finished he said to Andy, “I spoke to your principal and he assured me he will settle the problem tomorrow.  You will get your bike back.”

Andy was delighted.

The next day, the principal made Sammy and Harry return Andy’s bike which was already scuffed up from being dropped carelessly by Harry.  “We’re sorry!” they said reluctantly under the glare of the principal.

As the boys swapped bikes, Harry was surprised by how well his old bike looked and worked, which was much better than the day before.  Even though he now liked his old bike he still treated it badly and in just a few days he scuffed it like before.

Andy took his bike home and shined it up as good as new again.  From then on, he kept it safely locked up and away from Harry.

There were no more problems until the last week of the school year when Sammy cornered Andy again. “Andy, you’re a good student aren’t you?  You get nothing but straight A’s don’t you?”

Andy agreed he did.

Sammy continued, “Well, Harry has a problem.  He may flunk out and have to repeat the fifth grade. I’m sure you do not want this to happen, do you?  During the final test this week, I want you to let Harry copy your answers.  And you better let him or you’ll have trouble from me.”

Andy was aware of the dangers of cheating on tests.  He could be suspended from school and face other penalties, not to mention letting his parents down.

“No, I’m not going to allow that,” said Andy surprisingly defiant, “I worked too hard for my grades and I’m not going to risk ruining my record only because Harry didn’t do his work.  It would be one thing if you asked for my help in studying for the test, but it is quite another to cheat.” And Andy stared down the two until Sammy finally backed down.  Good thing too, as Andy was prepared to fight them, win or lose.

Many years went by, and Andy grew up to become a fine young man.  His lawn mowing service earned a lot of money which he used to grow his business.  In a few short years, Andy’s company had several employees and was mowing most of the lawns in Freedomville.  The company also helped pay his way through the local college where he earned a degree in business.

Sammy and Harry also grew up.  Harry did not do well in school and eventually dropped out and became homeless.  Sammy graduated from High School and went to work for the local government where he enforced local rules and ordinances, such as displaying street signs, and making sure companies like Andy’s didn’t make too much noise when they worked.

Every now and then, Sammy would accuse one of Andy’s employees of an infraction of the rules, but if he paid him some money he would not report him.  Of course, the employee hadn’t broken any rule at all, it was just Sammy’s way of trying to get additional money.  When Andy heard of this, he went to see Sammy and asked him to stop bothering his employees or he would tell the police.  Sammy backed down, but he was mad that he couldn’t scare Andy anymore.

Jealous of Andy’s success, Sammy came up with an idea to cause him more trouble. He proposed a new law to tax people who own lawn mowers, and that the money would be used to support the poor homeless people in town, such as his cousin Harry.

Andy did not like this idea.  If it became law, his hard-working company would have to pay for loafers like Harry.  He didn’t think this was fair.  Andy told all of his friends and customers about the unfair law.  If it passed, he would have to raise his prices for lawn care.  Andy was so persistent that when election time came, Sammy’s tax law did not pass and all went back to normal.

Shortly afterwards, Andy was walking downtown when he came upon Sammy and Harry. Sammy was mad that Andy had helped to defeat his tax plan.  Before he could say anything though, Andy reached into his pocket and pulled out some money which he gave to Harry.  This surprised both Sammy and Harry.

“Why did you give him money?  I thought you were cheap and greedy,” asked Sammy.

“I’m neither,” explained Andy, “I don’t mind helping people when I can, that is my decision and nobody else’s, but I refuse to let anyone tell me how I should spend the money I worked hard for.  It’s none of their business.”

Harry complained, “You’re more lucky than we are Andy.”

“Luck has nothing to do with it guys.  Was I lucky that I made good grades in school or was it because I studied hard?  Was I lucky to build my business from nothing or did I work hard?  I think the answer is obvious.  You believe the world owes you a living.  It doesn’t.  Each day is a blessing, we can make of it what we want. We may succeed or we may fail, but we must at least take responsibility and try to make the best of things.  And if we fail, hopefully someone will lend a helping hand, but it is up to each of us to get up and keep moving forward.  If you want something, you just have to work hard to earn it.  It’s that simple.”

Sammy and Harry began to think about what Andy said.  They knew they had tried to cheat life and realized he was telling the truth.  And if Andy could do it, why couldn’t they?  “Is it too late for us to change?” they asked Andy.

“It’s never too late to start.  How would you like a job working for me in my lawn service business?  I promise you nothing but hard work, and the benefits resulting it, such as good pay and some self respect.”

“When do we start?” they asked Andy.

“How about right now?” and they shook hands.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

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