"Dad, there's a pig head in the refrigerator!"
One hot humid Louisiana summer, tenants who were renting a two bedroom apartment from me unexpectedly moved out without notification before the term of their lease ended. Given that I was out-of-town performing corporate pilot duties five straight weeks that summer, by the time I learned they were gone, several weeks had elapsed.
I assigned my ten-year-old son Andrew the duty of cleaning up the kitchen appliances. Nearly immediately after commencing the clean-up he came running up to me in the apartment next door where I was busily painting, "Dad, there's a pig head in the refrigerator!"
"Well, just be sure to clean it out very well, Son."
"Okay, Dad; but, it's going to take a while," Andrew replied in a decidedly dejected fashion.
After returning to my painting I couldn't help wondering what could possibly make my son think cleaning out the refrigerator would take so long—despite the presence of a little pig's head—and why did he seem so dour about it?
Nearly two hours later, as I finished cleaning up after completing my painting project I went to check on Andrew's progress. He had moved the refrigerator outside the building and was using a garden hose to spray off the residue from the cleansers he'd applied during cleaning.
"Alright, Son…finished yet? By the way, what took so long; you weren't taking too many breaks were you?"
"No, Dad," came Andrew's clearly agitated response. "This was not an easy refrigerator to clean out. It was covered with mold and maggots!"
"Well, it looks completely clean and white--it appears you've done a very thorough job. Good job, fella!"
A couple weeks later the new tenants in that same apartment called my rental office phone and left an exceedingly animated-voicemail message, "There are maggots all over the inside our refrigerator!"
Impossible! I thought. I saw Andrew diligently clean out that refrigerator myself. That very day I took Andrew with me and drove out to inspect the strange situation. Sure enough, as soon as I opened the door I saw dozens of white squirming maggots wriggling all over the refrigerator. Shocked and incredulous I looked for clues as to the possible source of the maggots. It seemed the maggots were centralized around the outer regions of the inside of the door as though they didn't like the cool temperatures of the refrigerator and were attempting to wriggle to the outside and escape. Examining further I absent-mindedly bumped the insulated molding of the door and suddenly about fifty maggots literally fell out of the space between the door and the insulation. With this sudden discovery I pushed back the insulation all around the inside of the door and was amazed and sickened to observe hundreds, perhaps thousands more maggots wiggling behind each inch of insulation—all around the inside of the refrigerator door.
After replacing the refrigerator for our tenant Andrew complained, "Awe, Dad! I spent hours...the better part of an entire day cleaning out that nasty refrigerator....and now we know all my efforts accounted for nothing!"
"Andrew, life is like that. Oftentimes in life we can only determine our actions; not the outcome."