Part of this week’s wall-building endeavor involved a lawnmower-powered hoist. Like so:
Yeah, it looks cumbersome, but it was surprisingly productive and cut the projected time for the job by a full day. The hoist was The Wandering Monk’s work, but powering it with the riding mower was the brainstorm of his minion, a 14-year-old boy from my neighborhood. The mower belongs to his family.
When the guys were wrapping up, I requested, “Please ask your mom or dad if I can reimburse them for use of the mower, or at least replace the gas we used.”
“Oh, they don’t need that,” he assured me. “They’ve got plenty of money.”
The Monk and I tried to explain that it had nothing to do with money and everything to do with neighborly courtesy, but the young man was on a roll. He proceeded to inform us exactly what his parents’ incomes were.
I already guessed they had unusually large incomes for our neighborhood because that family has a lot of nice toys and doesn’t appear to be in any distress over them. Their son’s recitation was completely Not My Business — and very interesting in spite of (or because of) that.
Later, the three of us got to talking about guns and gun rights and the kid regaled The Monk and me, without prompting, about the size and make-up of his dad’s gun and ammo collection, naming specific weapons and amounts on hand.
Again, I wasn’t surprised, except by the sheer scale of things (you might be thinking he exaggerates or lies, but he’s the classic good kid and not the blowhard type). I was gratified because now I know that at least two neighbors are armed for Armageddon. But while the bad angel on my left shoulder listened happily to the details, the good angel on my right shoulder urged me, “Tell this kid to ut-shay up-fay.” My bad angel — glad to know my neighbors are even better armed and prepped than I took them to be — won the argument.
I’ll go over and personally offer mower reimbursement to his mom or dad. I’m debating whether to suggest his folks give him a talk about confidentiality and need-to-know. Probably won’t do the latter. He’s at that age where lectures from parents don’t go down so well. I might make the need-to-know suggestion directly to him (if my bad angel, who appreciates the gossip, will just get out of the way).
In any case he did no harm by talking to me or The Monk. But you’ve got to wonder how many others he might give such details to and what the hearers proclivities might be.
I’ve seen plenty of hints over the years that the parents are well-prepared and aware of what’s going on in the world. They’re nice people with good values. They’ve raised their children responsibly, and even the 14-year-old is clearly aware of encroaching gun laws and the threat they pose to freedom. If push comes to shove, this family (including their kids, who shoot and hunt) are likely to be major assets to the neighborhood.
But they’ve got a serious hole in their security, the kind any family could have and the kind that’s hard, and perhaps impossible, to plug. Good idea to teach kids sound security practices before they’re old enough to think they know everything.