Are we still obligated to a plumber that never sent a bill?

I have a problem where I worry about things that happened many years ago, still wondering if they were sinful or not. My husband and I are very thrifty and conscientious about paying our bills, and we don’t owe any money. More than twenty years ago, we were living in our old house, when a plumbing disaster occurred. A plumber came to our house one night during the weekend because sewage was leaking into our crawl space. He had to saw a hole in the bathroom floor. The kids were young then and we were short of money. Instead of presenting us with a bill (I think we understood that we owed about $300), this plumber said he would come back during a normal work day to finish something up. He then proceeded to disappear off the face of the earth! He never showed up and never sent us a bill. I never knew his name or who he worked for. My husband called his office a couple of times to let him know that we never received a bill from him, and we never received a response. I wanted to try some more, but my husband said it was just too bad if the guy wasn’t bright enough to send us a bill. This is a big city, and the guy was so old he could be dead by now. My husband doesn’t remember who he was or who he worked for. Was that a form of stealing on our part? If so, how would we pay the money back?

Dear Listener,

The plumber obviously didn’t want to charge a young family with a huge bill. He did the work gratis. The Lord will pay him if He hasn’t already! Rejoice that you encounted such a good man–and say a prayer for him.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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