Thursday, November 17, 2011

Didn't Ask, Didn't Tell

A couple of weeks ago Anna and I and raked and blew the leaves on my mother-in-law’s very long driveway. After we finished it looked nice and clean. I joked, “We better take a picture of it.” Meaning the leaves are not finished falling

The other day I was back over at mother-in-law’s house. This time I brought J, a Latino, to help me clean off the roof. The roof was covered in piles of leaves. J, with a blower, very skillfully blew the leaves off while I was on the ground raking and shaking bushes as the leaves landed on them. Afterwards, the roof looked clean like a new roof.

I thought I would recycle my joke: “I better take a picture of it to make it last.”

J looked puzzled and said, "Do you want me in the peecher?"

We went to our house and first cleaned off our roof. The shortest point to the roof is from the deck. I suggested to J that he put the ladder there to go up. J climbed the ladder to the roof and was about to heave himself off and up when the ladder slipped out from under him. Luckily, the bottom leg of the ladder slid against my shoe and wasn't going any further. J could carefully ease himself down. He said he thought it might be better to go up in front of the carport. I agreed.

I put J cutting vines and other plant life off or near the fence and while he was doing that I sucked up leaves with my blower/vacuum. J prgressively and systematically worked on the fence, leaving a clean fence behind him as he moved forward. It was looking so good it is hard to beleive that fence is at about 35 years old.

At one small area J was close to a patch of monkey grass. I told hlim my dog Willow likes to look for chipmunks in the moneky grass there. He said with his unique accent, "Chipmunks!"

I nodded and agreed, "Chipmunks."

After I sucked up all the leaves in the monkey grass and in the trees' edges I got my riding lawnmower and mulched the leaves in the yard. The first thing I noticed was my gas cap was off. I walked around the yard looking for it from the last time I mulched a couple of weeks ago and didn't see it. How it got off the mower, I had no idea. Anna designed a neat looking gas cap from aluminum foil and molded to the opening.

While mulching the leaves in the back yard I found the gas cap. I hit it with the mower. It lodged onto my blade and blocked the blade from mowing. I put the Snapper riding mower on its end and tried to knock it off the blade with a hammer and couldn’t get it to bulge. It was on too tightly. I decided I would have J help me put it on the truck and after I carry him home take it to the shop.

It was about lunch time. I asked J what he would want for lunch. He timidly asked if there was a Wendy's close by. Yes. He said he would like a chicken sandwich. I asked if he wanted their spicy chicken sandwich and he looked a little surpised, and said, "No, just a regular". Then I remembered last time he did some work here he wanted a Chic-Fi-a and then I also asked if he wanted it spicy. Which he looked a bit taken back that time too - like I was stereotyping him, which I guess I was.

By this time J was finishing up with cleaning the fence and had two truckloads to load up and carry to a landfill. The first load filled up easily because it had plenty of and limbs of two small trees cut down. I told J to spread a pile of mulch left over from a tree cutting we had not long ago and I asked the tree man to leave it.

The next truck load started off very slowly filling up. It was mostly tiny vines and it was time consuming putting on the truck. Then J took it on himself to start rolling a handful of vines which as he rolled was like a snowball, making it pick up more snow and getting bigger and bigger. Instead J had a vine ball getting bigger and bigger. By the time he got to the truck with the vineball it was bigger than the bed, but it was loose and springy. It took both of us to lug in onto the truck bed, with it hanging off both sides. J climbed up in the truck and jumped up and down on it and each jump it compacted itself into a smaller size. It was hard unloading alone, but it was an idea truck load.

When I got back J had finished spreading the mulch into a very methodical pattern over the ground

I asked him to help me load the lawnmower onto the truck and I told him how the blade had lodged itself into the gas cap. He wanted to see it. We lifted it up and with a hammer he dislodged it - it was fixed!

He saved us a bunch. We have been paying a group around $100 to clean my mother-in-law’s roof annually. Considering how much we were paying J and how much time it took, the roof cleaning cost about $5 this time. And the lawnmower, I don’t think the place I carry my Snapper would have even looked at it for less than $75. J is someone who is willing to work and do a good job. I think he takes pride in his work.

His work was done. I paid him and carried him home

I did not ask J if he was legal and he did not tell me.

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