Last Sunday I was out at the street loading my trash trailer when two Samoan women walked up. The younger of the two said, “That tree looks kind of dead.” I knew what tree they were pointing at and I knew what they wanted. I looked up and said, “Sorry, that’s Tony’s tree.”
Two years ago a Samoan man named Tony came walking by on a Sunday and asked if I needed any trees trimmed. I had six I wanted down completely. He gave me a great bid, but when I asked about his insurance he smiled and shook his head. I had to decline, “Sorry, but two of those could hit my neighbor’s place. I can’t do it.” He thought for a second and offered, “I’ll bring it with me. I have insurance.”
An hour later, Tony returned with an older couple. “Insurance.” he declared proudly.
I thought to myself, “He’s leaving his parents as collateral.?”
The older Samoan man saw my confusion, “I’m Tony’s Pastor, this is my wife.” As it turns out, cutting trees on Sunday is Tony’s tithe to the local Samoan Fellowship.
“So, the Church has insurance that will cover this?” I persisted, feeling cheaper and smaller by the minute.
The pastor’s wife laughed and pointed to heaven. “Yes, we have the best insurance.”
I knew I was toast. I surrendered,“Okay, let’s do this,”
Within minutes an old truck and two beat-up vans pulled up. Slowly, four elderly women emerged, followed quickly by a dozen thirteen year boys and girls with machetes. The Aunties sat down in the shade and began softly singing as they sharpened the machetes. The kids ran amok. Thinking this was looking like a long day, I showed one of the kids where the bathroom was. I installed one in the back side of my garage with a door to the outside so I wouldn’t have to take off my muddy boots to go in the house. Soon, there was a never ending line. As each limb fell to the ground it was pounced upon and hacked into toothpicks by bare-footed thirteen year olds with razor sharp machetes. “We don’t need no stinking insurance.” In a few short hours all trees were down, the battlefield was spotless and my faith restored.
“Tony’s tree?” the young woman repeated.
“Yeah, you know, Uncle Tony?” I tried. Blank stare. “Don’t you attend the Samoan fellowship?” I pleaded.
“Yyeeah…?” she said slowly.
“Well, Tony cuts trees on Sundays for…and, I thought maybe you were even here a few years back.”
“Nope.” she smiled.
“Well, anyway I’m saving that tree for someone else.” I said apologetically.
“Okay.” she said cheerfully. As they walked away I saw the older woman whisper something to her. The young woman turned back. “Hey, can my Auntie use your bathroom?”