All I wanted was someone to trim my lemon and orange trees so my backyard doesn’t look like a jungle anymore. It should have been simple. I had already pissed off two nice Mexican gentlemen trimmers a few weeks before, one because he wanted like a thousand dollars and the second because I wanted him to come see the trees as soon as he hung up the phone with me. I ran out of those little business cards that only tree trimmers seam to leave on your doorstep and had to figure out a different way to find one. A friend of mine told me about NextDoor, this new neighborhood kind of website where all sorts of things are recommended and advertised and they also let you know of every little crime that is committed so you can be even more scared. I happened to mention to the nice Yelp man who called me yesterday to sell me more junk advertising that NextDoor was going to put their sorry ass out of business and I hope soon. He had no clue what it was as he was just trying to convince me that ‘pay per click’ advertising was wonderful. No, I told him, what am I an idiot? Yelp is going to charge me a buck for every time someone clicks on my business page- not buys, not messages, not even tries to hack into it- but just for clicking on it. Then Yelp will go give some random guy in Lower Slobovia, an IPAD, some WIFI and a nickel a clickel and make 95 cents for each click all day long. Who are the people who actually pay for this? Nope, I told him, come back when you guys come up with a better idea to get money from me. Meantime, we better use NextDoor until Yelp comes along and buys it up and then we are back to capitalistic square one. But I digress.
So off to NextDoor I go last week to look for a tree trimmer and the best part about it there was only one listing- J something or other. So I call and he and his friend show up like immediately. They are rubbing their young, little millennium cheeks trying to figure out a price that won’t sound ridiculous. A hundred dollars they say. For both of you and for both trees, I ask. They see my jaw drop and try to cover with, “Well that’s our NextDoor price of course, if you were on Craigslist we would charge more”. Hmmm, interesting but I couldn’t, I just couldn’t. We weren’t really talking trimming here. Both my trees were hugely overgrown. More like major surgery. Tell you what, I say, I’ll give you a hundred and fifty if you both show up. So we make a plan that Friday morning at 7:30 they would show. When J called on Thursday morning to tell me they couldn’t make it that day, I showed the proper level of disappointment rather than snickering at their less than fully formed millennial brains. OK, how about Friday morning, I say. Great! We’re both available. Me too, I yell! What a wonderful coincidence.
I set my alarm for 7am. I get a call at 7:30am. I am going to be late, he tells me; I have to go get my tools. Hmm. I’ll be there at 8:30 he says. Not bad, I think, it gets me a little more sleep. Fully clothed and fully coffeed, but that’s OK, I’ll make it work. At about 8:45, organizational wizard boy strolls in by himself. You are pretty damn late, I state as in the obvious. If you expect to work in the real world you need to show up on time. I heard through the grapevine that they frown upon lateness in the real business world. If you want to be late for work for your entire life, then do what I did and work for the Federal Government. Just looking out for you, J. Where’s your friend, I ask. He couldn’t make it. He couldn’t make a job that he bid on two days ago? I don’t even want to know. Ok, I say, but then you are getting a hundred bucks and that’s it. He starts to whine, literally on the verge of tearful whining. You promised me $150! And you promised me two of you. Take it or leave it. Then just short of tears, he says, Ok, I’m sorry I just had such a bad night. Really? It’s life, Skippy. Suck it up. There’s going to be a lot more of them, trust me, and now trim the damn trees. He starts to apologize and apologize and apologize for being upset. Ok I see tough love isn’t going to work on this tree trimmer. What happened, I ask. Me and my girlfriend got into a big fight because I got drunk again and was talking to another girl. Well I certainly hope you shared some of that alcohol with the girl you were talking to, cause I’m at it for five minutes with you and I want to either open a Budweiser or a vein. How old are you? Twenty-seven, he says. Look, I tell him, you got two choices here, you can either figure out you’re an alcoholic now and stop drinking and save yourself the liver damage or you can get it under control and drink only to have fun on the weekends with your friends in moderation. Only two things in the world you can do with alcohol, my friend. He thanked me for saving him the other 11 steps. How old is your girlfriend, I ask. Forty, he says. FORTY, FORTY are you kidding me? You are 27 years old, get rid of her. Don’t you want kids eventually and a life? Yeah, but I love her he tells me and she is starting to think she is getting too old for kids. At that point I could have taken him inside and showed him two kids whose mother was 40 and above when they were born, but why encourage him. You need to focus on your career and my tree trimming right now. You have plenty of time to settle down etc. Go out and have fun. But that’s how I got into a fight with her he tells me. Not the falling down drunk and puking kind of fun, I say. Mix it up a little. Go to a movie.
He says yeah I know I have to figure out my career, the EMT work (paramedic for the acronym-phobic among us) doesn’t pay much. Imagine now the biggest light bulb on top of someone’s head and that is what was above me. WHAT, I SAY! You are an EMT? I couldn’t find a damn EMT for one of my youth football fields last weekend. Can you work on Saturdays? Yeah, he says and so I drag him to my office, I email the companies we are working with this year with his information. He got a new job and my trees got trimmed and all this before 10am.