Saturday, November 9, 2013

Fall Is...HOA Letters

It's hard to get good yard help.
I have this yard guy named Billy Bachelor. He is a devil-may-care fellow who usually wears overalls with no shirt under them, but adds a hoodie jacket on top. His dental health is not great and if he were on a reality show, the producers would add subtitles when he speaks, though he is perfectly clear to me. He lives somewhere down around Athens, but he comes up here to do my spring and fall pine straw and cleanups.

I've written before, over the years, about our Home Owners' Association and its reign of terror. When the seasons change is usually when the hysterical letters start arriving in our mailbox. I don't even open them because I know what they say: Trim hedges, add pine straw to beds, paint the roses red, etc. Okay. Matt and I both pretend these letters do not exist and we never discuss them. To do so would be to acknowledge that neither of us will do yard work. I mean, Matt mows, and he removes leaves (once a season after they've all fallen down). But he is not out there tending the land. He works on his own projects all the time, and I am super lazy.

Sometimes a big part of a healthy marriage is just ignoring stuff together.

For a long time I never knew how to contact Billy Bachelor. He just appeared one day with a trailer full of pine straw. Then six months later, he was back, just in time. That was a few years ago. I started having him do more and more tasks. The guy knows a lot about plants. He'll come and look the place over, give me a list of stuff he'll do, then quote me a price. Then we negotiate and I think I'm being a real hardass, and then I talk him down, but I'm probably still paying him too much, and everybody is happy.

Week before last, I was really needing Billy to come back. Things were looking a bit overgrown. I was thinking, how do I summon that guy? There should be some kind of beacon. But then there he was! He brought his girlfriend and his father. We talked over what they would do and he said that if I paid a bit more he would remove this dead limb from a tall tree that hovers over our driveway. It really could decide to fall and hurt someone, so I said sure.

They set to work and did all the things. It took a few hours, and he said he'd have to come back the next day to do the tree limb. I said, "Well, shall I pay you today or tomorrow?" Of course he wanted to be paid that day. And he has not come back to do the tree. I know, duh. Which surprised me! He has always been pretty diligent in seeking my business, and I'm a good customer for him.

But he had given me his phone number. Aha! So I texted him and he didn't respond. I did not text him again, because I don't want to enter into a pestering text relationship with a south Georgia pine straw farmer.

So I imagine that Billy thinks he has burned a bridge with me? Or maybe not, maybe he hasn't thought of it at all. But I would be happy to see him again come Spring; I'm just going to hold him to our agreement about the tree limb, or tell him that since I effectively overpaid him the last time, I'm taking it off the next round of services.

If I were to text him, I would want to say something like, "You dropped the ball, but don't be embarrassed, I'm not even mad, you can pick it up the next time." But that doesn't seem like something that can happen?

I'm telling you all this because it's Saturday and nobody reads on Saturday.

I don't know why, but I always seem to have these ambivalent relationships with tradespeople and domestic helpers. Take my house cleaner Fabienne (please!), but that's a whole 'nother story.

I hope you are having a lovely evening. Right now Laura is on her way from the last Wizard show to the cast party. She is in her full glory! Life is too rich!



Kate said...

OMG I have so much to say here but do not know where to begin other the rob and I do not do yard work. Nothing. We have a lawn guy who cuts the grass and tend to farm out all other yard related chores. I used to have the same kind of overall wearing guy but ours disappeared for a long spell. We think he's in jail. Now I pay a good friend's teenager to do the leaves and everything is totally cool there. Don't you have any teens in the hood who need to earn easy cash?

Marsha said...

1) I am reading, but feel that I must google Pine Straw to truly understand. Whatever it is, you are required to put it on your garden beds?

2)I hired household cleaning help just a few months ago and I'm already ?!?!?! with the order of the relationship. I'm realizing that my friend who works along side child caregiver, property manager, and cleaning folks, is not as nuts as I'd thought.

Becky said...

Pine straw, like, I guess you would say pine needles? But in the South they are long needles and they are used as ground cover, like mulch.

Common Household Mom said...

This post explains my health marriage. My husband and I are, together, good at ignoring ominous dripping sounds and basement dust.

The Wizard show looks great - full to bursting with cast members! My daughter was in her school play (high school) and she was disgusted with the apathy of the boys. I think the boys had to be coerced into being in the performance.

Michele said...

JR and I have worked out an agreement that has worked for over 30 years. He does work around the house and I bring in money and pay the bills. This situation works so well for me that I was heard saying today; Honey, will you wash the new sheets today because I don't know how to run the washer. It worked! I have clean sheets.

Camp Papa said...


Anonymous said...

Pine straw is the best mulch. Pretty & beats the everything bleep out of the woodchips in use up here. But I have to order it, Becky. From Texas. But the way it looks & smells & mats up, o, the best.

I want to talk about your guy. Based on your description, I don't believe this to be a case of larceny nor ball-dropping. The ball is deep in one of his overall pockets. Think of E.B. White's rich description of the contents of Avery's pockets. He'll get back to you, as he said. Am dying to know what your text said, but you are just-right in your decision against texting again. I had tree guys like your straw guy. Plus, I'm data-mining all the guys since ever, ahahaha!

Megan said...

Josh and I call those HOA letters " nasty grams !" Lol great post Becky -M

Elizabeth said...

I read on Saturdays and have always wondered why Saturdays are such a dead day for blogs. This post was so rich, though, Becky -- like an Austenian trove. Honestly, the gardener, your relationship with domestics, the thread leading back to Fabienne -- the overarching excellent marriage. Rich, rich, rich --

Beth said...

I just investigate this pine straw business since I've been looking for good mulch for several years. Heavens.

The man's name is NOT Billy Bachelor. I'm going to have to go with alias here. Or Witness Protection Program. We must know if he responds or comes back to remove the limb.

I've had contractors like this dude, as well. I've often wondered why I cannot find a contractor who will respond in a timely manner to messages, who can be on the ball at least 80% of the time? It is a mystery. I think maybe it's part of a large contractor conspiracy, part of the guild rules or some such.

Hootie said...

'sfunny. I sometimes behave in a contractor-y way like this guy. Like, tell me what you need, and I'll get to it. But don't ask me for my schedule, because I got several more folks that are asking me for similar things and I'm bouncing back and forth between them all, and I'm juggling variables that aren't even on your radar. And if you don't hear from me for a few days, it's fine to send a friendly note reminding me that your project needs to stay close to the front of my stove. And then one day you come home and the limb is gone, or your project is on Dropbox, or whatever.

Billy B isn't gonna resent you asking for what you paid him to do. But I'd definitely call (don't text) and say, "Just checking in. You know, the more I look at that limb, the more I realize you're right about it being a hazard. Did you have a day in mind to come back and take that down, or should we schedule something?"

You shouldn't HAVE to do it this way, but sometimes that's the way it has to happen.

Or, he's in prison. In which case I got nothing.