Why do landscapers suddenly appear ….

DSCN7948So there I was raking the lawn, when not to my surprise I see a landscaper’s truck pull a U-turn and then stop in front of my house.

sigh. I close my eyes hoping the apparition will disappear.

This happens all the time. ALL-THE-TIME. Best case scenario: he is probably going to ask if I want to hire him; worst case scenario I will have to hear comments about how I have not only single handedly inverted the natural order but obviously castrated my husband too because no real man would ever allow a woman to do his yard work.

“You doing this by yourself?” he asks.

Translation: “Raking leaves is as mentally taxing as trying to disarm a bomb with three seconds left on the timer in the middle of a kindergarten class.” Or in some dialects, “Raking leaves is as physically challenging as lifting elephants. For safety’s sake, get a spotter! Preferably me but in a pinch you could at least use the husband you must have horribly maimed.”

I have had this conversation so many times that I actually have a standard answer which goes something like, “Yes and I sure do love doing yard work. Fresh air, exercise … ”

Yard work not a chore? Hmmm. This throws him off from pitching his services so he stands around for awhile. Thinking.

I continue raking the leaves and hope he has enough social skills to get back into his truck and go away.

Instead he decides to make another awkward obvious observation. “You’ve got a lot of pecans I see.”

“Yeah, sure do.”

“I got a buddy. Gets 40 cents a pound for them.”

cricket cricket

He takes one from the closest tree, opens it and eats the nut. Picks up a couple more from the ground.

“Maybe 80.”

I stop raking. What is he talking about? Does he want me to pay him to pick up my pecan nuts? Is he saying he will pay me 40 cents a pound for pecans that sell for $4.99 at the grocery store? Why is he still here?

“What are you doing?” he asks again.

And now I am annoyed. Because clues: rake, wheelbarrow, pile of leaves …

He puts the pecans he has picked up into a tiny pile. “Oh, you sure -do- have a lot of pecans. You doing this by yourself?” He asks yet again but this time his tone is incredulous.

Even though I’ve been given multiple chances, I continue to fail to deliver my lines correctly. In response to his prompt I -guess – I was supposed to say, “Praise be! You have arrived just in time, Sir Knight. I wonder if I might prevail upon your gentle nature to please rescue this poor damsel in distress from the odious task of raking up dry leaves on this blissfully warm sunny day?”

But because I do not play nicely I say, “Yep and I sure do love doing yard work.”

He stands around for another couple minutes. I wonder a bit at why he asked if I was alone. I am not afraid. I know kung fu. I could easily turn my favourite rake into a lethal weapon. Even so I take the non-violent path and just quietly continue to rake up the leaves. Eventually, the guy twigs to the fact that all his worst imaginings are probably true. I am not a nice girl. He gets back into his truck and goes away.

And darned if I don’t feel guilty for not helping him escape the awkward situation. Which I realize is a little messed up since it was he who decided to invade my space and time.

Honestly, does this sort of thing happen to other women when they try to do yard work? Maybe I just have some kind of aura of helplessness …

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36 thoughts on “Why do landscapers suddenly appear ….

  1. Ha! Great story. I don’t have a problem with folks wanting to help, but I do have a good story. After working in the garden for several hours, I went inside to get another bottle of water and the doorbell rang. When I answered, covered in dirt and sweat, a salesman asked “You live here?!!!” like he couldn’t possibly believe it was my house. So I said, “No, I’m the gardener,” and shut the door.

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  2. I don’t think I’ve ever been stopped while doing yardwork to be asked if I wanted to hire someone…it seems like every time I’m outside doing yardwork when the crews are around, it’s because I’m weeding, and that’s something they don’t do, therefore there’s no reason to ask if I want to hire them.

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    1. That’s true! Weeding and actually taking care of plants is not exactly their business. I can appreciate that especially at this time of year these guys are just trying to earn some extra money — probably for the holidays — so I don’t actually mind all that much if they are polite. I do mind creepy people, however.

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  3. Great post, made me smile. Although landscapers don’t pull up to offer their services over here, I am so glad you stood your ground, but I probably would have gotten rid of him a bit earlier.

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  4. OK, I really enjoyed this post, plus the comments. So I have never had that exact experience, being a person of the male persuasion. But while mowing the lawn with my little push mower I did have a couple of teenage boys yell out to me “Man, is THAT you’re lawn mower?” When I said it was, they laughed and said, “Man, that looks like a toy lawn mower.” One other story. Once when I was working in the front garden a small truck pulled up to the curb. A guy leaned out the window and shouted to me, “Hey buddy! You like steak?” Long story short he was selling boxes of frozen steaks but seemed really nervous like he was in a big rush. I do like steak and bought a 5 lb. box (the smallest), but the meat tasted like it had been marinated in kerosene.

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    1. Oh no. I am so sorry to hear this. Those boys were rude and the steakk guy probably should have been arrested for improperly disposing toxic waste. =/

      I use a push mower too and it always draws attention. People think it is some kind of hilarious steampunk contraption and I too have caused much merriment. Yet. In every single way it is superior to gas and electric mowers. So when I get these dumb comments in my mind I transform into a supervillain and shriek out “FOOLS!” and laugh maniacally. They can keep their heavy, loud, fossil fuel driven machinery. I know who will have the nicest lawn after the zombie apocalypse.

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  5. LOL! Thanks, Debra! I got a good laugh out of this.

    As a man, I don’t get the sexist landscapers creeping around acting…creepy. O_o

    However, I totally understand the unwanted solicitation. In my case, it’s….roofers, window and door guys, roofers, lawnmowers, roofers, solar power guys, roofers, roofers, solar power, roofers. (Yeaaah…we got a LOT of ludicrously wealthy roofers here in Colorado, all fraudsters and scammers, taking the insurance companies (and eventually homeowners, via insurance rate hikes) for a ride, if you ask me.)

    Anyway, it can be REALLY tough to get rid of these guys. I’ve got “no soliciting” signs plastered all over now, and for some reason these guys don’t seem to think they are solicitors…they are, something else, I guess. Solicitors.

    I had a similar experience as you with a Solar City guy. He came by…he wouldn’t go away, so I decided to change tack. I asked him some questions, to see if getting “info” out of him would make him leave sooner. Well, he got to the point about wanting to hook the RENTED solar panels (yeah, you have to sign a 25 year lease, which as I know now results in LOTS of problems when you try to sell your house, as buyers here in Colorado seem very averse to picking up the lease tab) into my home network via my WiFi router. At that point, I said “Sorry, no thanks, that’s a security risk”. He obviously did not take the hint, and I ended up having to explain to him how it was a security risk, which he did not understand. It was another awkward 5 minutes or so before he finally decided to shuffle away, with what I think were promises to resolve my security issue concerns.

    Well, a few days later, he was back, all happy and beaming because he seemed to think he had found a way to quell my fears about having some un-vetted wireless device that uses an unknown and un-vetted security algorithm hooked into my home network. All he really got was some explanations of how their wireless “call home” device worked, which only made me more trepidatious about using it, not less. (As a software engineer who has done a lot of work with securing online services, I am extremely wary about proprietary, closed algorithms for security…until a security algorithm has been picked apart with a fine toothed comb, pounded on for a couple years, and thoroughly abused…and is then still secure…I have no reason to trust it.)

    After standing there quietly listening to this guys exuberant second spiel, I told him “No thanks, I am still concerned about security”….he actually threw a hissy fit! Right there on my doorstep! He was scoffing and hoffing and puffing and whining about how I couldn’t possibly not understand how secure their closed, proprietary wireless connection system is. He was angry that I had “wasted HIS time” (seriously? O_o), shaking his head and pacing in a way that could only indicate he was STILL trying to find some way of selling me this Solar City solar panel system. Either they pay their sales people HUGE commissions, or this guy just didn’t like to lose.

    I finally just had to ussure the guy out (he actually managed to weasel his way onto my door-sill), and close the door on him. The height of rudeness. And I had no soliciting signs all over. Someone really needs to teach these guys what the meaning of “solicit” actually is… :P

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  6. What a gem of an entry. I think they stick around so long because you might as well be a pink unicorn for how alien your response is to him. He was expecting you to: (1) flirt with him and asking him in for a cold drink, (2) yell obscenities to him and tell him to scram, (3) show fear, (4) ask the hubby to come out and speak to him hombre a hombre or (5) the dogs/husband on him. He and his like are hard circuited for those four responses. When you failed to illicit the correct response to his inquiry, he could not move because he did not receive the mandatory stimuli.

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    1. hahaha. Thanks, Fred. The more I think about it, the more I do feel bad for him. Though the idea of standing tall and saying something like, “Smithers, release the hounds” is REALLY appealing.

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  7. Oh this whole thing is probably partly my fault. When those guys with the truck and trailer sporting the magnetically applied sign stop and ask me about work, I always flap my hands and start babbling about how my husband makes all those decisions so could they just leave me a card and I’ll be sure to give it to him….?

    I ought to be shot for perpetuating myths and stereotypes I know, but I simply am not interested in engaging freelancers in conversation nor do I feel responsible for correcting their mistaken impressions about who does what work or why. I hold my hand out for a card and take it then turn my back and get back to work. (the cards, when torn into bits, compost nicely)

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    1. haha I have done all those things! That is so funny. I know most of the guys who work in the neighbourhood by now. They smile and wave as they drive by but they leave me alone because they are decent guys. What I mean by that is when they stopped to ask if I had work for them and I said I didn’t they understood the message the first time.

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  8. We don’ t have that sort of thing here thank goodness. But you are a nice girl, Debra, just too nice . I’ d have told him to go away straightaway , in good old Anglo- Saxon language.. And you end up worrying about his awkwardness. Are Americans just more polite? Or is it you ? Both kind and polite.
    By the way can you do Kung Fu with a rake? Very impressive.

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    1. You are too lucky by half, Chloris. I am a Canadian but I don’t really comply with the stereotype I guess because I am totally ok with not being polite at all times. I sure could do kung fu with my favourite rake. And yeah I know it is probably weird to HAVE a favourite rake. It isn’t as balanced or as heavy as it should be but I am pretty sure I could use it to defend myself.

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  9. As my hair goes gray I get less and less guys stopping to offer to help. I think he was enjoying your attention…like the 4th grade boy that left bees in an envelope for me once. He was also angling for a bit of work perhaps to pay for gas or lunch. It is a different reality!
    Around the trade we call those “guys with the truck” Yardeners not landscapers. They are always trying to drum up work and give cheap estimates when they are hungry. I have my own beef with them. They make it hard for those of us that do designs, give written proposals and plan work months a head, to get people to understand the real cost of a good landscape installation by a company with overhead, that pays taxes and a fair wage to their crew.
    We do lose work to them. And I have to remind myself they get what they pay for. And really it is a good thing that there is work for every skill level and every budget!
    For you going inside till he left might have been easier…but then he might have picked more nuts off your tree. Perhaps he was just lonely and hungry, like a lone cowboy riding the range : )

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    1. I -LOVE- that term ‘yardeners!’ Clever clever. Trust me when I say I am no vision of loveliness when I am outside doing yard work. hahahhahaha. On the serious side, I can see how they would be a problem to professionals. And Texas doesn’t have such a poor record for worker safety by accident. Some of these guys who work the neighbourhood do perform some important low level work though. There is one guy who doesn’t even have a truck. He just pushes his mower down the sidewalk and goes to his regular customers. He doesn’t bother anyone, makes a little extra cash and helps out some busy and/or homebound people who just want their lawn cut. People complain that he seems a bit low rent — but isn’t he actually being more sustainable than the dudes in their giant trucks driving around?

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  10. This happens to me at least once every summer — at least the accosting part. I’ve come to the point where, when I see a yard-work truck & trailer passing by, I mosey into the back yard and work there for a while, where I know I won’t be disturbed. Usually it’s people wanting to cut my tree limbs. I just tell them my husband does that when the time is appropriate. A month or so ago I looked out a side window (slightly off topic I guess) and saw a man wander through our side yard with a hose. Naturally I got curious and looked out a front window, only to see a truck belonging to one of those national weed and feed lawn companies totally blocking the driveway. I scurried outside just in time to find the guy beginning to spray the front yard. When I got his attention he finally stopped what he was doing and apologized that his hose wouldn’t reach into the backyard! When I politely asked him what he thought he was doing he apparently figured out he might be at the wrong house. When I affirmed my address and that I didn’t order his business, he backed up the truck and went to the neighbor’s front door! I could have told him that they didn’t order the service either, but decided I’d had my thrill for the day and went back in the house. Lovely post!

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    1. OH MY GOSH. I would FREAK if that happened to me. You were so lucky to be home and to have noticed. The first time a tree guy asked if I wanted my trees removed I must have gaped because I was frankly speechless for about a minute before I eventually asked, “Why? Why would I want to remove heritage trees?!?!?!”

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  11. This summer I lugged tons of rubble in a trailer and unloaded bag after bag to our local tip, not one man helped me, my sister pointed out its because I looked filthy dirty and was sweating profusely. Maybe the answer is to look awful. Don’t feel guilty!

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    1. I am no siren luring these guys to their doom I assure you. Half the time I am covered in oozing poison ivy welts because I NEVER LEARN to wear gloves. hahahaha. Lugging tons of rubble is probably as much fun as it sounds. Sorry nobody offered to help then.

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  12. My neighbors laugh as my husband comes over to chat as he escapes the yard work and then they laugh again when I call him and wave him back over…I had one landscaper tell me I needed help cleaning up my landscape as it was late and the weather would be turning. And I told him I didn’t rake the leaves off the beds nor did I cut the plants down as I garden for wildlife and leave it up….he kept trying to tell me I needed help cleaning up and I just walked in the house as he insulted me saying it sure was a mess my landscape…IT’s A GARDEN for wildlife!! Geesh

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    1. You bring up another point. The first few times this happened I actually was insulted: like, are you suggesting my work is poor? heh. On the plus side, you did inform this guy about the idea of wildlife gardening. Baby steps still move people forward.

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    1. I am laughing. Thanks! I should have winked and said with a Jersey accent, “Buddy, Don’t tell me about connections! I’ve got connections … underground … if you know what I mean …” And Fred, if you are reading this I apologize in advance for perpetuating that mobster stereotype but what I would really be talking about was my earthworm and arthropod friends ….

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