March 5, 2010
The other day I came home and found someone had stuck a plastic fork in my yard, right in the dirt under the mailbox. The fork had a pink flier stuck in it, so I pulled them both up and unfolded the flier and saw a a picture of a guy reclining in a hammock holding a drink. The caption underneath the picture said, "This could be you!" No, actually it couldn’t, because, unlike the guy in the picture, I’m bald on top. And there’s really not a good place in my yard to hang a hammock. I’m not a fan of lying in a hammock with a drink anyway, because if you try to drink something lying down all you usually end up doing is pouring it all over yourself. Or you have to sit up, which defeats the purpose of lying down. The flier was from some people offering to do lawn care–mowing, trimming, shaving my head, et cetera. I’m immediately suspicious when someone "offering" to do anything isn’t willing to at least spend the money for a stamp but instead goes around sticking forks in peoples’ yards, but I got even more suspicious when I got to the "deal" they were offering. Their offer is this: they’ll take care of your yard and you can decide how much you want to pay them. I immediately think of the old saying regarding luxury items–if you have to ask how much something is you can’t afford it. I’d want to give them a fair price, but how do you put a price on something you’d rather not have a complete stranger do? It would make me uncomfortable to have someone out there mowing my yard, especially if I were trying to lie in a hammock while they were doing it. I’d feel like I had to make small talk, just like I do whenever I have a plumber or electrician in the house, but it’s really hard for me to make small talk in those situations. I even get uncomfortable sometimes with people I work with. Maybe you’ve had the experience of walking down a long hallway in your office and seeing someone you sort of know from work but don’t really know coming from the opposite direction. It’s even worse when you’re outside and you can see them from three miles away and you recognize them and you’re pretty sure they recognize you, but you don’t want to make eye-contact or acknowledge them until they’re much closer. So you pretend to take a sudden interest in the ground or the clouds or the way the bricks fit together in the building you’re walking past, then, just as they get close you look at them and say "Hi" or, if you’re feeling particularly gregarious you’ll even say "How are you?" In fact I was in this very situation just the other day, and it occurs to me that the guy I passed was bald on top. I bet he has a place in his yard for a hammock too.