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He Walked 6 Miles to Work Every Day, Until One Customer Changed His Life

What goes around, comes around. That's what everyone says, right? I think a lot of people expect karma to be instantaneous. "I held the door open for you, so now I'll be getting a bonus at work."

Oddly enough, that's not how it works.

If you want to know all about karma, just ask John Joyce, the 83-year-old who has been mowing Robert Norton's lawn for eight years.

“I asked him how much he would charge and when I came home my yard was cut. He only asks for $20 and he’s so loyal,” Norton says. The only time we don’t see him is if he’s sick.”

Joyce has a personal relationship with each of his customers, who even loaned one of them $300 so their power wouldn't get turned off. Even though Joyce hasn't been paid back yet, he knows that helping people isn't about what you get back.

Joyce was driving a 1994 Ford truck for years, but the transmission gave out and he couldn't afford to fix it.

“We’ve put so much money in it over the years and we finally had to junk it,” his daughter, Kelly Wiggan, said.

Instead of giving up his lawn-mowing gig, Joyce did the only thing he could think of: walk there. Every day, he would walk six miles to his customers, pushing the lawnmower the whole way while also carrying the leaf blower.  

"It’s not hard,” he says. “It’s just a little uncomfortable. I needed the money."

“His knees swell up pretty bad if he walks too much," Wiggans clarifies. "My dad’s a really good guy, he’s old school, a good, kindhearted man and has a really close relationship with his customers.”

When Robert Norton and his wife, Nikki, heard about Joyce's truck, they stepped up to do something incredible for him.

“John is a good, hardworking man and seeing him pushing his mower motivated Nikki and me to help him,” Robert Norton said. “People’s needs don’t arise when it’s convenient for you, they arise when they have needs. John’s needs didn’t come at a convenient time, but we needed to help him."

The Nortons know all about bad timing. Five days before his wedding, Robert's mother passed away. The couple decided they needed to give back to the man who gave so much to others. They set up a GoFundMe page for Joyce, hoping people would donate to help get him a new truck.

“Our life has been crazy," Norton said. "But people’s needs don’t wait until the time is right for you. Yes, we are doing a good thing, but we are just normal people trying to help someone who needs it.”

Within days, over $13,000 was raised for Joyce, and he got a brand new truck. He was also given a Home Depot gift card so he could buy a new lawnmower.

“It was wonderful, really wonderful,” Joyce said of his 2004 Nissan truck.

“It was super exhilarating to do a good thing for such a good man. I’m at a loss of words. I’ve been through a whirlwind of ups and downs the last few weeks and it’s nice to culminate on a feel good moment,” Robert said.

Nikki and Robert Norton, presenting John Joyce with his new truck.Dion Lim

As for Joyce, he only had one thing on his mind: time to get back to work.

“I think it’s wonderful,” he says. “There couldn’t be anything better.”

Meagan has been a writer with Shared for two years and has an intense love for Netflix, napping, and carbohydrates. Please feel free to contact me with questions or story ideas! meagan@shared.com