The Great Garage Clean-Out

by Bob Smiley as told to Bob Smiley

Mrs. Dodd hired me to clean out her garage. I was excited about earning some extra money to buy Christmas gifts. That is, until I saw what I signed up for. 

They must have built her garage on top of an old junkyard, because evidently the workers just put up walls without removing all the junk.

I opened the garage door and took one step inside. I wanted to take more steps, but there wasn’t room. I grabbed a broom and used it to reach over and flip on the light switch. Three things happened right away. 

No. 1: I saw an old washing machine beside me. 

No. 2: I saw a giant rat snake curled up on top of the washer . . . also near me. 

No. 3: I did a full-body shiver while screaming and leaping backward. 

I’m not sure who was more scared, the snake or me. As I jumped back, I tried to hit the snake with the broom. I missed and hit the washing machine instead, causing it to start up and finish the wash cycle that had probably started back in 1778. The snake quickly slithered behind the washing machine.

Now I had two problems: the snake was still hiding somewhere, and I don’t like folding laundry.

  Little by little, I carried stuff to the driveway and divided it into three groups: 

1. Junk 

2. Trash 

3. Miscellaneous 

I didn’t really need the third category, but I’d just learned how to spell “miscellaneous” and didn’t want my new knowledge to go to waste. 

Two hours later, I’d made great progress. I could now take seven steps into the garage! I found all sorts of stuff: cowboy chaps, a lampshade, boxing gloves and a long black cape. I looked really cool with all that stuff on. Plus, if I ran into the snake again, I’d be ready! 

The only thing Mrs. Dodd wanted to keep was a glass fish tank that she’d had as a little girl. Everything else was going to charity. I didn’t know who Charity was, but she was going to get a ton of cool stuff. 

Another hour into the cleaning, I found an old chain saw. I decided to see if it still worked by pulling the starter string. But the string was longer than I expected. My hand swung behind me, and I heard a loud crash. Fortunately, I was still wearing boxing gloves so my hand wasn’t hurt. However, I turned around to see Mrs. Dodd’s fish tank broken on the garage floor!

Panic set in. It was the only thing she cared about! My brain quickly spit out options. I could tell her it was broken when I found it. Or I could tell her the snake did it! After all, the Bible warns us about those evil creatures.

But I’m a Christian. So I manned up, went in and confessed.

I thought she took it well, because she was laughing the entire time. Then I realized she was laughing because of the way I looked.

Anyway, she said it was worth losing the fish tank to discover there were still honest kids in the world. So my challenge to you is always tell the truth no matter what . . . and buy some snake chaps if you ever go over to Mrs. Dodd’s place! 

This article originally appeared in the November 2011 issue of Focus on the Family Clubhouse magazine. Copyright © 2011 by Bob Smiley. Used by permission. Illustration © Gary Locke.