Monday, April 13, 2009

I Guess the Nuts Were a Tip

This morning, Hank and I were snuggled together in the sunroom watching Dora. It's how we start our day. Outside it grew windier and more blustery. On Dora, Diego made a guest appearance and brought an animal. Hank said, "It's a chinchilla," about ten seconds before Diego identified it. I was all amazement at this, because I didn't know what a chinchilla was until I was 30 years old and I'm still not sure I get it, when suddenly I heard a loud popping sound. When Matt came downstairs a few minutes later, I said, "Go out front and see if that tree fell down." I was thinking of a big oak in our front yard that has been ailing ever since before we moved in. It has a big crack in it and the trunk is hollow. It's also aimed squarely at our neighbor, leaning ominously toward Mindy's house.

I didn't think it really had fallen down, but indeed, the sound I heard was the tree cracking even more, so that now roughly half of the diameter of the trunk was still actually attached to the ground. Holy crackamole! Matt announced that he was going to Home Depot "to get some chain." The whole tree rocked in the wind, and I had visions of our tree falling on Mindy's house and our homeowner's insurance refusing to pay because the tree had been dead. Matt corrected me, "That tree is NOT dead, it has leaves on it. Take some pictures of them." So I commenced taking pictures of the partially-dead tree. Then I went in the house and googled "emergency tree service," and "oh god our neighbor will sue us please help." Actually, Mindy and Ron seemed pretty chill about it. Matt had spoken to them, and Ron said, "Well, if it falls, it falls." "When did they get all Zen?" I wondered. And I also googled "chinchilla," because seriously, how does Hank know that?

I got some tree people on the phone and they said they'd be here in an hour. I really love dealing with small businesses for this reason. Just like when we needed emergency locksmithing. When you need help quickly, I think a mom-and-pop is the way to go, because they want the business, and the people who do the work will also be answering the phone. I spoke to an older gent, and he reassured me, "I just need to go pick up Rod and we'll be there directly." Good enough. And by all means, bring Rod.

Now Matt was back with some yellow strappy things to splint the broken trunk. I was all, "Don't even touch it! Let's just leave it alone," like it was a bomb that would go off. But here he is checking out his handiwork.

Matt the Tree Surgeon


I shouldn't have doubted him, because when the tree man arrived, he was highly complimentary of the straps. The older tree guy had a cigar clenched between his teeth the entire time he spoke to me. Later he replaced it with a cigarette. But he said they'd get the tree down. Here it is after they cut off the broken part. Doesn't it look like a great fairy house? Farewell, old tree.

Hollow


And there's Rod up in the tree, taking the limbs off. I pulled up a chair to the dining room window and watched this like it was a matinee. Also visible in this pic is neighbor Ron's Hummer, waiting to be crushed by a tree.

Tree Dudes
It was exciting, and there were tense moments, but they got it down. Or older guy and Rod did. There was a third man there who did nothing. Finally after a few hours of tree removal and cleanup, older guy came into the house to settle up. I thought this would be a straightforward and brief exchange in which he would tell me the fee, I would give him a check, and we would have brief pleasantries. Noooo. Instead he started to tell me two interleaved stories, prompted by his asking me what my husband did for work. When I said he was a computer game developer, Tree Man said that his son was studying for an IT job. I remarked that it was good work, and Tree Man said that his son had a criminal record, "like 95% of people," but that since it was drugs and not theft, he wouldn't have any trouble getting a job. Then he launched into a discussion of how most cops and DA's have drug problems, which he knows because he hunts with them. There was a parallel thread about some unidentified people selling their software company and how their product was "better than Google, or I don't know what they were calling it in those days," and how they made a killing and are only 26 and party all the time on their 3.5 acres, and can you believe that. I just made those two stories sound so much more cogent and interesting than they actually were. It took him forEVER to get all that out, while I leaned against the counter trying to look polite, and deferential to his elder status, but not too encouraging. At times, he paused so, so long that I feared that he might lose his thread altogether and circle back around to the beginning.

Finally I asked him what the damage was, and he said, "We'll let you go for 750. It should be more, but I'll say 750 if you'll let me try some of these nuts here." He gestured toward a big, two-pound jug of Emerald cocoa almonds. Reader, do you know how good those things are? So of course, I said, "By all means, help yourself." He reached into the jug with his unwashed, earthy, tree wrangling hands. I said, "Why don't you take those with you? Do you need a snack in your truck?" And he said, "I think I will."

Trio

So finally I paid that raconteur and waltzed him and his nuts to the door, and listened on the porch to a few more minutes of explanation of the DUI system and many other facets of human existence that I had not heretofore considered properly. Then he and Rod left, after diagnosing what was wrong with my azaleas, and promising to come back and put in some knockdown roses for me. Actually, that last part was really useful.

So, delicate tree removal and cleanup: $750. 38 ounces of Emerald almonds: $20. Not having our mostly-dead tree crush our neighbor's house: priceless.

19 comments:

the gazelle said...

I can't believe you let him have your nuts! Those are damn good nuts! I guess maybe it was worth it to not have your neighbors sue you, but still...

Amy said...

That is an AWESOME story, and told only as you can tell it. That dude sounds like a character! Speaking of nuts, reminds me of the time a guy came to fix our dishwasher and, once he heard our American accents, proceeded to explain how all Americans suck and that 9/11 was a gov't conspiracy. He even mailed us a DVD later!

I love Matt's role in the story. I sincerely believe that every man dreams of the day when he needs to say "I'm going to Home Depot to get some chain."

Amy said...

p.s. that IS weird about hank. what is a chinchilla, by the way? keep an eye on that boy. he's gonna take over, i think.

Michele said...

95% of people have criminal records? Is that a real statistic or was he pulling that out of his aessed (my word verification, btw)?

Glad you got the tree taken care of.

Cassie said...

Oh. My. Goodness. Cracking up at the criminal record "statistic" and "get some chain".

Also that's so funny about the chinchilla. He's a bright one that Hank. Was he excited to see all the tree action? Ocean loves that kind of stuff.

Keely said...

I don't suppose it's possible that Hank had seen that episode before. Y'know, I'm rarely the voice of reason so I'd assume that isn't the case.

Becky said...

I have no idea what that dude meant about the criminal record statistic. He may have meant that 95% of people have tried illegal drugs? He was a loopy loo though.

And I guess Hank must have seen that episode before--it's the only thing I can figure--but it's weird because I hadn't seen it. Or maybe his memory is better than mine? Freaky.

Matt was quite satisfied with his resourcefulness. Gettin' some chain! LOL

Casey said...

I'm going to google chinchilla after I'm done leaving this comment. I have a general idea but we're not a Dora family so I'm not positive.

Larry was my version of your tree dude. Actually, every service person EVER is a chip off of the "weird and creepy" mold. Larry was here last week, he pressure washed the pool cage and patio one day and fixed the leaky patio roof the next. He wore cutoff shorts and bent over quite often to reveal the hole in the assal region. He got me out front for about 30 min while he told me all about his Harley trips, his years of service, the fund raiser at the VA and how asshole drivers killed three of his Harley buddies with careless driving. Then he gave me an American flag to fly on my car. I would have paid Larry double his asking price to get him to go away, he soaked up my kid's entire nap time.

A Day That is Dessert said...

what a story! I just saw these photos on Flickr and was wondering what-in-the-world... too bad you had to give up your nuts.

The Stiletto Mom said...

What? You don't have a criminal record like the other 95% of us?

Pfft. Goody two shoes.

The Dental Maven said...

Where does tree man hail from that 95% of the population are criminals?? So nice of him to reassure you about his son's drug record. Yeah. I feel better.

Jenni said...

A cigar?! Who was he, Bluto? Also, the diagram at the end? That my friend, is priceless

Michele Renee said...

Amazing story. The nut request was over the top. When you quote Hank in your stories, especially when he is watching Dora, I hear that quiet, determined tone. Years ago I had my boys in a pet store and that's when I saw a chinchilla (we just look at animals in pet stores, a la a free zoo event). No pictures of the worker shirtless?

SJN said...

colorful guys... yeah, I'm always afraid when I have to hire contractors, usually I meet them outside, checkbook in hand.
That was definitely an emergency situation with that wind we had yesterday, like Mother Nature's survival of the fittest for the trees in Atlanta.

Bex said...

you just took a common occurrence and made it so interesting! you should write a book. i love your picture and labels btw. they are almost as amusing as the story.

bsouth said...

Oh my, what a great story!

fraught said...

And bless you, child, for providing photographic footage to round out the play-by-play. I felt like I was there, except I got to keep my almonds.

A Lawyer Mom's Musings said...

Great story. Wish I could have been a fly on the wall (or inside the nut jar) in your kitchen during those stories. People who've been baptized by the criminal justice system definitely have some unique perspectives.

And the knock-out roses tip? That's what you'll find priceless. Those things are fantastic if you don't have a green thumb or very much water or both.

Sara said...

OMG my hackles went up over your contractor story. I also hissed and made the cross sign with my fingers...whoa, sorry.
I could just feel the pain of listening to his BS story as he tried to decide how much to rack you for emergency tree service and steal your most delicious cocoa nuts. It was all so close to home. sigh.
Good on Hank though! And Matt for his ingenuity!