George Graham

The Bug Man’s Story

Joe the Bug Man comes once a month to poison the myriad pests that bug us here in Central Florida. He’s a stocky, opinionated fellow, who has worked hard all his life and doesn’t see why his taxes should pay for other people to lay about and do nothing except have more and more kids, etc., etc.

Joe’s brother Rick used to be our bug man, but Rick, who is diabetic, had surgery to remove a part of one foot so he gets disability now and Joe got his customer list (with us on it).

One of Joe’s pet peeves is the fact that Rick collects disability when he could do any number of jobs  with less than a full complement of feet, toes and so on. Never mind that Joe has profited from Rick’s decision to quit working. Joe has his portable toilet business and any number of other things to keep him busy. He really didn’t need Rick’s customer list.

Joe just doesn’t think it’s fair for people to take handouts if they are able to work. He thinks that kind of thing ruins a country. Of course, he doesn’t mind signing up for health insurance under Obamacare. He couldn’t get insurance before because he’s overweight – a pre-existing condition according to the insurance companies.

But that’s different.  What makes Joe mad is the way some people game the system, driving from food bank to food bank, for example, to stock up on free stuff. The way he sees it, they shouldn’t be getting free food if they can afford a car.

Joe is the type of guy who would make any Republican pundit proud. His dad taught him that he had to work for anything he wanted, and he is passing that philosophy on to his kids.

“My kids don’t come to me to ask for money,” Joe brags. “They ask what they can do to earn it.”

On his most recent visit, Joe told us a tragic story about his dad. Apparently, Joe said, his dad had lost interest in life. He’d done everything he wanted to do, seen everything he wanted to see, been everywhere he wanted to go… Life just had nothing more to offer.

So he stopped eating and lost a hundred pounds in just a few weeks. His kidneys failed and he died.

As you might imagine, Joe was really broken up about it. After all, his dad was only 70 years old.

Joe’s sad story made me think about Luther and Esther, our friends who spent their lives in the Salvation Army, serving all over America and in many parts of the world.  Luther and his first wife, Jewel, had 63 years together and when she died, he married their long-time friend, Esther. Luther was 89, Esther was in her early 80s.

They had seven great years together, traveling all over and continuing to do God’s work as they saw it. In my mind’s eye, I can still see the pictures they brought back, including one of them standing on the Great Wall of China.

Luther’s gone now. But Esther is carrying on. She helped organize a sale to raise money for the poor just the other day.

I don’t know what the moral of these two stories is, but I suspect it has something to do with the way our philosophies shape our lives.

Click for more on Luther.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for