An unemployed man with a successful wife spends all his time lazing around and refuses to do housework unless he is paid, until the day she falls seriously ill.
Richard Franklin was angry at the world. He’d been a successful travel agent, but with the onset of the COVID pandemic, his business had gone bankrupt. Now Richard lay on his couch all day playing video games, drinking beer, and eating crisps.
Fortunately for Richard, his wife Sharon, a software developer, had more work than ever and it was thanks to her that they hadn’t lost their house and were able to live comfortably. Unfortunately for Sharon, she was overworked and had no help from Richard…
She asked Richard for help, and in return got a blank stare. “Help? How?” Richard asked. “I don’t know the first thing about software!”
“I don’t mean help with the software, Richard!” Sharon exclaimed, “I mean help around the house! You could take out the trash, vacuum, dust…”
Richard puffed out his chest. “So now that I’m unemployed, you turn me into the cleaning lady? In that case, you have to pay me!”
The people who do their best for you deserve your best.
“Pay you?” gasped Sharon. “For the things I do for YOU free of charge?”
“Yes,” said Richard arrogantly, “Fifteen dollars an hour is fair, I think!” Sharon looked at her husband with tears in her eyes, shook her head, and walked back into her little home office.
Richard lay back on the sofa and scratched his stomach. Darned if he’d work for free! His mother had warned him when he married Sharon that she was one of those women who’d want to control her man, make him her slave.
Richard was no one’s slave. If Sharon wanted housework from him, she’d better pay! Of course, it never occurred to Richard that his wife was killing herself working to support him, and giving her a helping hand was no more than his duty!
Nope! Richard felt that the world had been unjust to him, and having Sharon take care of him was balancing the scales of justice. Then one day, his best friend announced that he was getting married (again) and the bachelor’s party was in Las Vegas…
That evening when Sharon came home, Richard actually got off his couch to greet her. “Sharon,” Richard said. “David is getting married, and the guys are going to Las Vegas for the send-off next week. I’m going to need two thousand dollars for the trip.”
Sharon gave her husband a long, sad look, then she shook her head. “I’m sorry Richard, that’s just not possible. Since you’ve refused to help me, I’ve contracted a cleaning service and I need the extra money.”
Richard started screaming at Sharon, accusing her of being stingy and ungrateful, and taking money out of her family’s mouth to line strangers’ pockets… It was a fine rant, but through it all, Sharon stood and just looked at him.
“Are you finished?” she asked quietly. “In that case, I’m going to bed. Make your own dinner.”
Richard lay back on his couch and fumed. Sharon was getting much too uppity for her boots, just like his momma had warned him, but he’d fix her! He was going to Vegas and she couldn’t stop him.
It was then that Richard’s eyes fell on Sharon’s most cherished possession, a lovely Art Deco Lalique vase in a clear crystal that gradually frosted to pale sea-green, like a frozen wave.
Richard jumped up and did some research online where he discovered that Sharon’s vase was worth a cool three thousand dollars, at least — more than enough for the trip to Vegas.
The next day when Sharon came home, Richard was sprawled on his couch, and he did glance up and greeted her with a sly unpleasant smile. “Hey, babe!” he said. “How was your day?”
“It was great, babe,” Sharon said. “How was your day?”
Richard’s smile widened to a gloating grin. “Profitable!” he said.
Sharon smiled back, then she frowned. “Something is different!” she exclaimed. “What’s changed?” Then her eyes fell on the plinth that had held her grandmother’s beautiful vase and she blanched.
“The vase!” she gasped, “What happened? Did you break it?”
“No,” Richard said coldly. “Since you wouldn’t give me the money, I sold it so I can go to Las Vegas with my buddies.”
Sharon gasped and her hand went to her left shoulder and she started rubbing it. She stumbled to the nearest chair and sat down. “How could you;” she whispered. “You know it’s all I had from my gran…How could you?”
Richard focused on the game on TV and raised the volume. He heard Sharon mumbling and complaining, but he wasn’t interested in her jabber. A man is a king in his own castle, and everything in it is his to dispose of, right?
Then over the excited voice of the sports commentator, Richard heard a muffled thump. He looked over and saw that Sharon was lying on the floor. “Damn you, Sharon!” he shouted. “I don’t need your drama! Get up and get me a beer!”
But Sharon didn’t move, so at half-time, Richard went to the kitchen and got a beer. Sharon was still on the floor, and her breathing was shallow. Richard nudged her with his foot but she didn’t react.
Richard lay back on the couch and sucked on that beer awhile, then he dialed 911 and called for an ambulance, and waited for help to arrive. When the paramedics knocked on the door, Richard was on his second beer.
He got up and opened the door, still holding his beer, and let the two guys in. They immediately rushed over to Sharon and one of them checked her pulse and cried, “She’s in cardiac arrest!”
To Richard’s horror, it looked as if Sharon wasn’t faking it, she really was sick — very sick. The paramedics did CPR and even shocked her, then they loaded her onto the ambulance and sped her to the hospital.
Richard was devastated. He’d laid there while Sharon was struggling to breathe, drinking his beer and watching football reruns on SportsTV. Sharon, who worked so hard to keep their life running smoothly, held him when he had nightmares.
This was the woman who had stood by him when he lost his job and became an embittered, cruel, and petty man. Richard’s eyes filled with tears. “I don’t deserve you!” he whispered.
The next morning, as soon as the doctors allowed it, Richard was at the intensive care unit to see Sharon. He walked in and carefully placed a stunning sea-green and clear crystal vase filled with lilies-of-the-valley.
Richard sat by Sharon’s bed and held her hand. When Sharon opened her eyes, he said, “I’m so sorry, Sharon, please forgive me. I got your vase back, and I’m not going to Las Vegas. I can’t stand the thought of losing you, I guess it took nearly losing you to know how much I love you.”
It took a long time, but Richard did win back his wife’s trust and became a better and happier man.
What can we learn from this story?
The people who do their best for you deserve your best. Richard’s wife was working hard to support the family and he should have been more than willing to help her.
Sometimes it takes a near-tragedy to teach us the value of what we’ve got. Richard was indifferent to Sharon. He saw her as the person depriving him of what he wanted, then he realized she might die, and knew how much he loved her.