The Art of Lawn Maintenance
(originally posted 11/21/2012)
I knew I was going to lose the bid.
I even called the margin by which I was going to lose it.
In my industry there is a sense of respect, dare I even say awe, about how accurate I am in predicting the outcome of bids. Nobody knows how I do it but I’m going to tell you my secret.
I get the home addresses of all my competitors and then I get up early each weekend and drive to their house. I sit and watch and wait and eventually I know everything I need to know about where their number will come in.
How you ask?
You can tell everything about a man by the way he mows his lawn.
As soon as I pulled up and saw his yard I knew I was in trouble. Soon my fears were confirmed as his garage door smoothly slid up to reveal my nemesis pushing out his mower.
It was beautiful.
It was something you’d see at a farm museum. The kind you’d visit if you were stuck in some awful state like Iowa and you literally had nothing better to do. (No offense Iowa… it’s not my fault you’re boring.) (Also… don’t get a big head Nebraska. You were on the short list)
His mower looked about 70 years old and at the same time seemed to purr like a kitten. Now compare this to my mower. Every year or two I need a new one because I refuse to put any effort into maintaining it. I will literally mow until it stops and then go buy a new one. Neighbors will pull their children inside when I start mowing because I will push around a mower with black smoke pouring out of it if need be. Once, when I was almost finished with the lawn, I was pushing around a mower completely engulfed in flames.
Not this guy.
He cut his lawn with military precision. It was a joy to watch.
As I sat hunched and hiding in the shrubbery, the smell of freshly cut grass filling my nostrils, I got a sudden rush of comfort that men like these still exist. I knew I couldn’t beat this guy no matter how I cut corners with installation or warrantees. He’d see it coming. It didn’t matter.
I wasn’t surprised when he disappeared after mowing and returned with the trimmer to take care of the tall grass by the fence.
I can only assume the fence is still there between my neighbor and me. I haven’t seen it in three years. Honestly, I didn’t know grass could grow that tall but I think after the first foot it starts to undergo some sort of plant evolution because I have five foot tall grass now that has a circumference of almost three inches at its base.
So I don’t mind losing to a guy like this. I just have this feeling that the world needs people like him.
He then turned his attention to his garden. He weeded in a way that brought tears to my eyes. There are bonsai trees that get less attention than his two hanging plants. And the little garden surrounding his mailbox… I won’t even tell you.
It’s just too painful.
All I will say is that my mailbox is surrounded by grass. I tried and I failed to brighten up that little spot of earth and all I got for my trouble was a citation from the county.
In fairness to my mailman, I understand his issue. How was I supposed to know that the particular specimen of climbing vine I selected to adorn my mailbox had a bright, beautiful flower that also seemed to attract every bee, wasp and stinging insect in a seven mile radius? By June I knew that my mail had arrived every afternoon by the shrieks and anguished cries of my mailman getting swarmed as he tried to open the mailbox.
Eventually it was time to go. I could no longer feel my lower extremities due to the need to keep concealed and the position I needed to maintain to ensure such a result. My ‘friend’ was still toiling away but I had seen enough.
I knew if his lawn needed water he would have the sprinkler out before the first blade of grass felt even a tiny bit parched.
By August the local fire marshal drives by my property at least once a day… knowing that the smallest spark and my lawn will set off a wildfire that will make the evening news.
I knew in the fall he would be there with a rake in hand only moments after each leaf hit the ground. I read somewhere that dead leaves act as fertilizer so that was all I needed to rationalize letting the leaves pile up. Hopefully dead grass also acts as a fertilizer because those leaves usually kill everything under them and it’s only after a strong wind that the grass will see any sun after October.
How does he keep his hanging plants alive?!
I buy them and actually water them every day and they never last a week. Then I’m stuck with big hideous brown dead plants hanging there as if a warning to all other plants that might want to grow on my property.
Sun Tzu said every battle is won or lost before it is fought. Smart man. I wonder if he had a lawn service.
My bid? $287,450.
His bid? $285,300.
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