March 28, 2008
It’s not that I hate mowing the yard. It can actually be pretty enjoyable to be out there in the sunshine, spending hours and hours getting plenty of fresh air and exercise and building up a good sweat and then finally getting the motor started. The thing that really bothers me is that, as I’m moving along, getting into a really good rhythm, driving hundreds of small creatures before me like Genghis Khan and his hordes and circling around the yard until I have a large plot of uncut grass in the middle of my yard in the exact shape of Sri Lanka, some small insect almost always has to fly up in my face. Usually it’s something harmless like a butterfly or a grasshopper, and I know they’re just being friendly. They’re just saying, "Hey, hi! How’s it going? What are you doing? Need some help? Hey, check out these wings! Just got ’em this morning when I came out the chrysalis!"
What they don’t realize is that I just want to get the grass cut down to an eighth of an inch above the dirt–unlike my neighbor who goes over his lawn with a pair of scissors and comes running out with a hand held vacuum cleaner as soon as a leaf falls–and go back inside. They’re like those co-workers who mean well but seem to spend most of their time searching for funny videos and filling your e-mail box with them while you’re trying to work on the third quarter layoff projections. And then, because they’re not content with clogging up your e-mail box to the point that you can’t get work related e-mails anymore and you start to worry that you’re going to end up being one of the third quarter layoffs, they have to come to your office and stand over your shoulder and watch at least half an hours’ worth of videos of a cat doing somersaults onto the back of a chicken while a guy in the background puts Mentos in a soft drink can, causing it to explode–all set to the tune of "Money For Nothing" by Dire Straits. And you feel bad saying anything because, really, they mean well. I certainly feel bad when I smack away the insects, unless they’re wasps.
Wasps are completely different. They don’t want to tell me anything. They’re like micro-managing supervisors who, under the pretense of watching everything you’re doing, are actually trying to prevent you from getting anything done. When a wasp flies up in my face I don’t smack it away, I get as far away from it and the lawn mower as I possibly can. I’m terrified of wasps, mainly because they’re evil, monstrous, mean-spirited little beasts who only live to kill spiders and sting innocent people. When wasps come at me I’m liable to do something incredibly stupid, like drive the lawn mower right through my wife’s flower bed. I think the business equivalent would be an accounting error that costs the company six billion dollars, although I know a lot of guys who would rather tell the boss they’ve just lost six billion dollars than tell their wife they just drove the lawn mower through the flower bed. I know Freud says there’s no such thing as an accident, but I also know there aren’t a lot of wasps in downtown Vienna. And there’s just nothing to do when you’ve had that kind of accident but face the music. Fortunately now I’m an adult and have a wife who’s very kind and forgiving and understands that sometimes accidents happen, and who won’t put me in the third quarter layoffs, although she might make me go out and work in the garden with the wasps.