In Which a Young Hoodlum Picks the Wrong Victim

Our neighborhood, which we love, isn’t exactly on the right side of the tracks. We often hear gunshots. There are often petty thefts, and others that are not so petty. The weirdest one I can think of was the time thieves stole a large kids’ wading pool from our neighbor’s yard. Did no one see at least two people walking down the street with that massive thing between them?

But I digress. A couple of days ago one of our neighbors posted an email warning of a teenage boy who has been working the neighborhood begging for money and anything else he can get. I immediately thought of the boy who came to our door a week or two ago, wanting to use the phone. In this neighborhood, one doesn’t necessarily believe a story like that. I did not invite him into the house. I handed him the phone and let him make his call out on the sidewalk.

Then a couple of days ago, my husband was walking home from work and he saw something red under a bush. Since he is the kind of man who always picks up trash, he went to pick it up, only to find it was a wallet. When he opened the wallet, he was surprised and concerned to find a photo of some neighbors of ours who live a couple of blocks away. We have known them for over 30 years.

So, I messaged the wife and told her about the wallet, and today her husband Bill came to pick it up. That’s when I heard “the rest of the story.” He thinks the boy is the one who stole his wife’s wallet out of their entryway. (The money of course was all stolen.) The boy has been pestering them for a couple of weeks, constantly asking for money. Bill has been very patient with him. When the kid says he needs money for food, Bill offers him actual food. The kid never takes it. When he says he needs money for gas, Bill offers to drive him wherever he needs to go.

Thanks to his patience and persistence, Bill now knows the boy’s name and where he lives. He told me, with a twinkle in his eye, that he has taken on this young man as a “project.” The boy might be smart and evasive and dishonest, but I promise you he is no match for Bill, a retired engineering professor with a lifetime of experience discipling young people. That kid picked the wrong couple to pick on! He will find his life changing before he knows it.

Now I hope you’ll excuse me, but Lucy should be arriving any moment and I want to be free to welcome her home!

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