Mowing in February

Obviously the economy is in the proverbial toilet – the news makes that clear. But it hasn’t really hit me personally at all. After all, Mister Lawyer has a stable job that is needed no matter the economic state of affairs in the country and we are both really grateful for that. Our savings is swirling at the bottom of the bowl like everyone else’s but it’s not an immediate worry, not like paying the mortgage or the medical bills.

Today there was an insistent ding-dong at the door, so I went to see who it was. I was hoping it was the package truck – boy do I like packages. But no, it was a man and his son, maybe 11 or 12. He wanted to mow the lawn.

I said, well, we have a guy. We do have a guy, but our guy isn’t due to start until next month when the grass really starts growing. Truthfully, the grass was just fine as-is. A little leafy thanks to the oak trees, but certainly not bad enough to warrant any action.

We typically ignore it from about October to March which is nice. I always wonder what the lawn crew does for income from October to March, but I never saw a reason to have it done if it’s not growing. I guess that’s just a problem that comes with being a lawn guy.

So I wavered. He looked just short of desperate. Like he really needed some money today. And I wondered, what if he needed to pay his rent today or his car payment? Or buy groceries for that child? The boy, his assistant and translator, was the clincher. I asked how much.

He looked at our good-sized backyard and the little loquat tree that keeps falling down. He asked if I wanted it fixing and yes, I did – the stakes and rope were already there, so I know that would take about 5 minutes. He wanted $50. Our regular guy charges $30, but he’s a good deal. I said ok. The surprised look in his eyes said “really?” He expected me to bargain him down, but I decided a few extra bucks wouldn’t hurt us.

And then it started to rain and I figured he deserved every penny of it anyway.

I assume he did a good job, I haven’t gone out yet…it’s still drizzling and I’m made of sugar don’t you know. I gave the child a little more for helping out – I could see through the window that he was working very hard and he definitely earned it. Mister Lawyer used to have to go out every weekend and mow his grandmother’s property and he hated it. This boy probably wasn’t keen on helping dad out when he had important things to do like hang out with his buddies and play video games.

Someone pointed out to me that “he’s trying to work for money and that shows integrity.” They have a good point but sometimes integrity isn’t enough. A lot of people who could afford and were inclined to hire lawn care two and three years ago are cutting back and it only makes sense that service people like this are feeling the brunt of it, though of society in general, they can least afford to do so.

The money paid to service persons like the lawn guy goes directly to the worker and his or her family, no middle man involved, but they have no safety net either if those finds dry up. It’s just something to be conscious of as we all decide which expenses can be eliminated or reduced this year.

I sure hope he got that loquat to stand up for good, stubborn thing.


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