Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Gardiner with the smart mouth

Brad hired "The Weed Man" and a landscaping company in April, to do our yard this year, which is unprecedented.  Usually, we go buy bag upon bag of mulch from Walmart, I do all the weeding, and clearance (weeds, leaves, dead petals, etc.) and then the mulch sits there for several weeks until someone offers to help us spread it or Brad hires some kid down the street.  We buy enough bags from a neighbor's kid, that is raising money for lacrosse, to maybe fill 1/4 of our beds - every year.  Brad lures the kid in, with the promise of "spreading the mulch together" and then he retreats to the basement after about an hour and has the kid finish the rest.  We have actually had Brad's seventy-year-old parents help us spread mulch, our laziness and procrastination is so out of control.

I expected this year to be the same.  The only difference being that "the weed man" shows up a few times and spreads seed with this impossibly gigantic and efficient wheelbarrow thing that takes all of 5 minutes and then he leaves his "Weed Man" bill in a deceptively bright yellow plastic door hanger thingy when he leaves.

"Did anyone come today?" Brad asks for the hundreth time in the past two weeks.

"Who was supposed to come?  I say with a mouth full of food while I stand and eat my dinner at the kitchen counter while everyone else sits.

"The landscaper or the Weed Man,"  he continues, "They were both supposed to come today."

"Oh, the Weed Man came today, but he was really late.  Go figure."

"Did you pick up the dog poop?  How long did he stay?  What did he do?  Did you talk to him?"

He was here about five minutes.  I told him to watch out for the dog poop.  He said, 'No problem'.  He left a bill and that was it." I said, getting bored of this line of questioning.  The Weed Man was not hours late.  He was days late.  I wasn't going to push the issue.  We both know why he was hired.  He was smart enough to call himself "The Weed Man" and it made us laugh, so we hired him.  I passed an old woman squatting down in someone's yard on my way to Barrington pick up today, her name was "The Weed Lady," and wondered if that was his mother.  Is that weird?

"What else happened?"  my husband was insistent.

"Well, he asked me to come in the back of his van while I signed his paperwork and he forced me to  take a hit off his joint, because he said it was in our contract.  What else was supposed to happen?" 

"What time was it?  Are you serious?"  Brad is used to this kind of bullshit from me, but I think in the recesses of his mind he thinks, "Well, you never know with her." so he asks stupid questions like that and I cannot resist a straight man.

So, after many days of Brad threatening to have a landscaper there, and unending "phone calls on the way to work" my favorite, the landscaper shows up today.  I had run about a thousand errands with Eva in the pouring down rain and then we treated each other to Marshalls in Grandview for lunch, he is parked outside the side of my house when I come back from dropping her off from preschool.  I introduce myself, go inside, take a shower, turn off my phone, and then promptly take a nap.

In my defense, it is "Playdate Wednesday" where I promise each of my kids that they may have a friend over after school, so I am mentally and physically preparing myself.

I wake up.  Put a load of laundry in, pick up the kitchen and the downstairs and head outside to pretend like I have been "working" at my supposed "from home" part time job, as far as they were concerned.  Here is the one-two punch conversation I have with "Chris," the landscaper.

"Wow!  The yard looks great.  I can't believe the work you have done."  I remember that Brad had called earlier and told me to tell them what I wanted done to the yard and a quick survey reveals that they are about halfway done.  Oops.  "Hey, would you mind trying to get that small treestump out, and removing all of that ivy and haphazard ground cover here?  If you can't.  That's fine.  It's just that everything is growing so unevenly here (it is about a four square foot area in the corner of our bed near the driveway.) There was a tree here, but it died so I cut it down, but I couldn't get the stump out.  I bought sunflower seeds today with my youngest daughter and I thought we could do a sunflower garden here.  If you could just remove everything and till the soil, that would be great."

"Well, that'll take a stump grinder that I don't have, and we have already mulched around the ivy, but sure, all I have is time.  No problem."

Did I hear him right?  I am still a little foggy from my nap.

"Hey, I've got an idea," he smiles, "why don't I come to your place of work and ask you to do something on your time that is not in my contract?"

Jesus Christ.  I was hearing him right.  "Well, I gotta go to school to pick up my kids.  Prepare yourself."  I am trying to smile at him and decipher the verbal attack that is being brought upon me.  "Okay, well, do what you can.  I guess you talked it all out with my husband when you quoted him.  I take a big swig of Diet Coke and pull out of the driveway.

What in the f**k?  I am reeling, while I embark on picking up 7 children.  Whatever.  I decide.

I take the all the kids to DQ because there is nothing in the pantry and I like to get the snack out of the way first.  It is a nightmare, but it is useless to go into the details.  You can imagine.  Seven orders at DQ.   

I pull back into the driveway and release the kids from the back of my hatchback, like a pack of Navy Seal Paratroupers with Vera Bradley parachutes.  "Get ready for this, " I say a little too loudly as they exit out the back with Dilly Bars and slushies teetering in their little hands.

"Wow.  The beds are looking great." I say, again, activating my "people pleasing mechanism" that is powered by guilt fuel.  "Hey you wanna Dilly bar?"

"I don't eat sweets."

"ALLLLRIIIGGGHHTTTY then.  Think your partner wants one?"  I turn to his comrade that is a dead ringer for a Hell's Angel and is 5000 times nicer than him.  He graciously takes a Dilly bar.  "Can I get you anything else?  I have Diet Coke and bottled water in the fridge in the garage."

"No.  Unlike you, I come prepared."  He then goes on to explain how our Lacrosse mulch is not as good as his mulch and that he is going to use it in the backyard while he tries to avoid "the mine field" back there.  It takes me a couple of "huh's" because Playdate Wednesday is starting to heat up, before I realize that he is talking about Scarlett's poop.  "Oh, I just picked it up Sunday.  But I guess that's the thing about living things, if you feed them, then they continue to relieve themselves.  I'll go pick it up so you can continue with your work." My people pleasing mechanism is in overdrive.

"Don't bother.  I think I've already stepped in all of them...On second thought, go ahead, it'll give you something to DO."

 OK. There is only so much apologizing one can do to her landscaper for taking a nap in the middle of the day. (Internally, I am thinking.  How does he know?  I must have had those telltale linen lines on my face, again. Damn!) Anyway, I am DONE.  I shoot him "the look", go pick up the poop, and push each of the seven girls successively, on the swing for the next hour, while they fight and complain about how long each person's turn is, and who goes next.  I am herding them like sheep while I exchange pleasantries with the neighbors when they walk by and shake their heads, the international symbol for "you are crazy, woman". 

"Wow, you really have your hands full,"  Chris has started to feel sorry for me, I guess.  He proceeds to tell me how he is proposing to his girlfriend at Christmas, and she wants to start a family shortly after that. He is suddenly all wine and roses, playing Ike Turner to my Tina Turner after an abusive episode.  

"Well, you should bring her by and show her this sometime, and that will encourage her to keep taking that birth control pill." I am usually not that easily won over, but why put energy into holding a grudge against your landscaper for throwing you some sarcasm, right?  Life is too short. 

I mean, it's not like I am holding on to the experience and blogging about it the next day, or anything, right?  Chris and his judgemental stereotyping of me, are a thing of the past, as far as I am concerned.  He is coming back this afternoon, though, and I am going to be ON MY GAME.  I've got activities the girls are in, and I plan to be fully showered and dressed in an adult-like outfit (no sweats), and a face full o' make up.  Hell, I may even accessorize.  I am going to show him what Modern Day Wonder Woman looks like.

Ok.  Let's be real.  I will be lucky if I get a shower in after my workout today.  The reality is that he will probably ring the doorbell only to discover my puffy linen lined face, again.  Or better yet, he will be trimming bushes outside and discover me sitting on the couch in my robe, with my hand in a Cheetos bag, while I watch my stories. (At least they are of the HBO and Showtime variety.)

Anyway, the yard looks great and Chris was really reasonable compared to past landscaper escapades.  You do not have to tell him what to do, and I advise that you do not, or you will get an ear full of biting cynicism.  Contact me if you want his number.  The pic above is the outstanding job he did.  I should have taken a picture of it before, and put up comparison photos, but I was takin' a nap.

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