While we were still getting settled after returning from a week’s vacation, a knock came at the door. Two young men offered to mow the lawn, which was embarrassingly overgrown. I was home alone, as my husband had been travelling that week. They said they would do all the mowing, including the trimming for $25.

I didn’t have any cash, but offered a check. They readily accepted and began working. It soon became obvious that they were inexperienced in using a mower, nearly running behind the mower in an attempt to get the job done quickly. The mower subsequently stalled and stopped working. The neighbor next door offered to assist them getting it started and eventually they worked out a system.

I went back in the house, feeling a bit better about myself having encouraged a strong work ethic in these young lads and such. Not long after, the side of the house shook as they evidently slammed the mower into the wall. I’m no expert, but I never thought lawn mowing required a brute force like that. I shook my head and went back to what I was doing.

Eventually, they finished and I gave them each cold Poweraide and their check, made out to “cash” and noted “for lawn mowing” on the memo section. I also gave them a few dollars to split as a tip, since they’d have to ask an adult to cash the check for them and wouldn’t see the money right away. They seemed grateful enough, and went on their way.

A few days later, I spotted what I thought were the two boys mowing another lawn as I was driving home. I rolled down the window and called to one, asking if he had trouble with cashing the check. He said that he had given it to his father, who had given him the cash instead. I figured the check would be cashed in a few days, since it was now in the hands of a grown up.

A few weeks went by and the check was still not cashed. I was getting more frustrated because now different boys were also ringing the doorbell asking to mow the lawn again, which frankly didn’t need it as it hasn’t really rained enough to warrant it. Rumor had spread that we were willing to hire the neighbor kids, and that sort of irritated me. One boy did identify himself as one of the original duo that mowed the lawn, and I asked again why the check hadn’t been cashed. Again, the boy told me that his father had the check and he had his money. I sent them away without letting them touch the lawn again, my irritation growing at the uncashed check.

I was getting ready to go to bed last night, around 9:15 when the doorbell rang and a loud pounding came from the door. At first, I didn’t want to answer, being alone in the house and stupidly thinking that it might be an emergency. It was another of the neighbor boys, one I wasn’t sure I recognized. He said my check “didn’t work” and wanted his money. I was confused because one of them had told me the opposite. It was impossible for the check to be bad, as there was definitely sufficient funds in the account. I began to worry about getting the run around.

I told him that he said his father had the check. He said, no, that his aunt had the check and that it “didn’t work.” At this point, I was getting flustered, and a little pissy considering the hour. I told him I didn’t have any cash to give him, but if he brought my check back to me, I would give him the cash the next day.

At this point, I’m completely weirded out and this situation, while completely avoidable by not answering the door anymore, was getting out of control. I’m not sure if he’ll bring the check, but I’m afraid that if I don’t pony up the cash that I’ll have more trouble on my hands. Even if I do, who’s to say he won’t be telling all his friends that if they produce the same story that they can also obtain cash from me in a similar manner.

My anxiety is high right now, and I had a lot of trouble sleeping. My husband is still travelling for business and won’t be home until tomorrow. I’m not sure what else I can do except put up a huge NO SOLICITING sign up on my door.