Last week, we went out to look at a house in the country. It was on 6 acres, heavily wooded, and as we drove up the long, winding driveway, one of the trees lining the way had fallen across the road, blocking it entirely. I got out of the car to see if I could move it. I was able to slide it aside just enough that we could drive around it. We went on with our home viewing as normal once the owner arrived.
The house was nice. It needed a good bit of work, but it was a decent enough place. The entire master bathroom was gutted, and it would be a big project. There were patches of drywall ripped clean in otherwise finished rooms. The inside felt substantially smaller than the advertised square footage. All in all, though, a workable place to live. Cozy even.
As we were getting ready to leave, my wife volunteered my help to the owner. Her husband was not around (Jamie sensed a divorce might have been in the works) and the tree needed to be cut up and taken out of the road. I hadn’t so much as touched a chain saw in over a decade, but I had at least used one before. She gratefully accepted.
I managed to get the thing running after a good five or ten minutes of priming, choking, throttling, pulling, and general coaxing. I walked back down the driveway to the trouble spot and went to work. Two cuts and I had manageable logs that could be thrown into the woods. The Realtor who was with us mumbled something about “not even remembering what poison ivy looks like” as he helped me toss off the lumber. I laughed and told him that I didn’t either, it’d been so long since I’d been around any.
We went home that night and wrote the offer. We whittled down the asking price a good bit, considering all the work we’d have to do, and where our budget was. The house was also a 45 mile drive from my office, and probably another 15 miles to D.C. A long hike that would cost me extra in gas and tolls over the long term. The offer was a little on the low side, but fair, especially considering that the house was a short sale.
They didn’t take the offer.
I did get poison ivy. Right on the back of my knees, in that sensitive spot that not only itches worse than elsewhere, but has a tendency to spread the rash when you bend your legs and compress the blisters. It’s itching right now. And burning. I’m not doing a very good job not thinking about it.
I said something this morning to my wife about how uncomfortable it was, and how “No good deed goes unpunished.” She scolded me and reminded me that it was a good deed all the same. Our oldest daughter suggested that perhaps the Devil had his hand in it, punishing my good deed so I’d be disinclined to do another. She probably had a point. She’s been doing volunteer work all week through the parish, and the improvement in her attitude and willingness to help out at home is making me proud. The best I could do, though, was grumble something begrudgingly before heading off to the shower.
Damn, this itches. And I don’t even get to be grumpy about it.
Steve Skojec is a storyteller, writer, blogger, photographer, designer, and sci-fi fan. He is the Founding Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. He lives in Arizona with his wife Jamie and six of their seven children.