People do love their free stuff. I had, and I'm not kidding, 18 people e-mail me over the course of the week to say they'd take them. One guy even said, "Just leave them on the curb and I'll swing by to pick them up." Dude, there will be no "swinging by," don't you get the concept of "bring a shovel and dig them up"?
Of the 18 people who e-mailed to say they'd be right on over, guess how many showed up? Go on, guess. Exactly three. So that makes 15 people who simply flaked or realized I wasn't kidding when I said they'd have to dig the shrubs up themselves. In any case, by not even calling or e-mailing to let me know they were no longer interested, 15 people wasted my time. Humph. Good thing I work from home.
The first guy was pretty cool. He's a Chicago police officer and he showed up with his sister to help him dig out four of the bushes. He just bought a house, and was pretty psyched to be able to get some well-established shrubs. His sister is a pretty experienced gardener, and she helped me identify many of the plants that were emerging under the shrubs: peonies, grape hyacinth, assorted lilies, daffodils, tulips, etc.
It looks like at one time there was quite a nice garden here; the woman who owned the house before was in her nineties when she passed and I guess it got to be too much to maintain the garden. The bushes were overgrown and choking everything else out. I dug up and transplanted many of these perennials to the backyard.
The second guy who was here was just as courteous, taking four shrubs with him and even taking time to bag the extra clippings and tidy up, though it was pouring rain by the end. I had gone inside--I certainly wasn't going to hang out in a thunderstorm--and left him on his own. When he left, he had put the tools away in a dry corner.
Nice guys like these lull me into a false sense of security. I feel like I can just let them in my yard with my tools and trust that they'll respect things. Not all people are so nice. Some of them are Dons.
Don came over, excited to be getting free bushes. Don had e-mailed me twice, and then decided to come over midweek instead of the weekend as planned because he was afraid someone else would beat him to the bushes. After so many people flaked, I had stopped scheduling times and told everyone "first come, first served." Don and I chitchatted for a few minutes, I gave him the shears, pointed out the bushes that were available, and told him I'd be inside if he needed anything. A little while later, Mom went out with a glass of ice water for him because it was hot, his face was red, and we didn't want him passing out in the yard.
Don worked at those bushes for quite a while, taking occasional breaks on the front step, sipping delicious icy cold water.
Ted and I were looking out the dining room window when we saw Don dump out the remaining ice from his drink, walk over to his car, and put the glass in his cup holder.
"He's not taking that, is he?" Ted asked.
"Nah, I don't think so," I said, stepping up to get a better look. "He can't be. I think he's getting something off the seat."
We watched as Don got out of the car with a camera in hand and walked over to the bigger bushes, where he proceeded to snap pictures of them from every angle.
"I'll go see what he's up to," I said, heading towards the back porch stairs.
As I'm walking down them towards the back door, Don is already shouting into the house--not knocking politely on the door, mind you, but bellowing through the screen. "Hello? Hello? Hello? Hello? Hello? Hel-lo?"
"Hi. You finished?"
"Yeah, just taking some pictures of the rest for my wife. I don't know how those Hispanic guys do it."
"The lawn care guys. You know. I don't know how they do this all day. They're strong."
He nodded at us, said goodbye, and got back into his car. The whole time he was blathering on I was barely listening to him, wondering if he really was going to drive off with the water glass.
"Dude, I think he's stealing our glass," I said. (By the way, we have an uncontrollable habit of saying "dude," it's rather a term of affection these days.)
"Do you think we should say something?"
"He can't really be stealing it, can he? Surely he'll hand it back to us."
"I don't know, he's starting his car."
"Dude, that's so wrong."
So we watched him drive off with nary a backward glance, giving him every opportunity to "discover" that he had "accidentally" taken the glass into the car with him. We didn't want to embarrass him needlessly if it was a mistake, after all. Hey, man, we saw you put the glass in the car. Ya gonna give that back?
I'm not sure why we didn't stop him. Maybe part of us just wanted to see if he'd really do it. Really drive off with our glass. I mean, it had to be deliberate, dumping out the ice and going straight to the car to put it in the cup holder. He planned it.
The thing is, it's not a particularly great-looking glass. It's your standard plastic restaurant-style-fill-it-up-with-Coke-or-maybe-Dr-Pepper-if-they-have-it kind of glass. Nothing fancy.
But Ted's somewhat sentimental about it. It's part of a set he nicked from Valentino's in Lawrence, Kansas, during his college days as a pizza delivery driver. Okay, technically, he didn't steal them. Whenever he'd go out on delivery runs, he'd fill a glass with Diet Coke and take it with him. But when the restaurant closed unexpectedly and they phoned him to say don't bother coming in, he had a half dozen or so left in the back of his car. So he kept them.
But now we're short one because Don felt that free bushes just weren't a good enough deal. Don had to sweeten his score with a free cup as well. And Don wasn't courteous and respectful of our yard. Oh no. Don left a huge mess, with dirt piled on our windows and branches everywhere.
Don even hacked limbs off other bushes to get to the bushes he wanted. Don even hacked off canes from our climbing roses that were in his way. (It doesn't matter that I was going to trim the roses back anyway; he didn't even ask if it was okay.)
This is Mom cleaning up the mess Don left. I don't know what's up with this photo--it looks like Kirk and crew are beaming down to the left. Or is it our ghosts? Seriously, what is that?So Don has left me all suspicious-like and wary of letting people wander the yard unattended. I darn near tackled the Comcast guy when I found him walking around the yard with a shovel this afternoon. Poor guy was only here to bury the cable for our recently installed internet service package. But how was I to know he wasn't here to help himself to our glasses?