Gather ’round, children, and I’ll tell you a story. It’s a story of a great environmental injustice, and how I made two hapless planet destroyers be my bitch, just to prove a point.
I was minding my own business one day when the doorbell rang. A man in a hard hat handed me an orange piece of paper and said the electric company had sent him to cut down one of my trees and to trim off all the branches of another tree. The trees in question were apparently in danger of getting close to the power lines.
Point A: the trees were NOT near the power lines, but this happened to be the day, month, and year that the power company was sending a truck around, so even though they were not close to the lines, someday in the future they could be, so the work had to be done now. This point will be very, very important for keeping you from thinking I’m just an asshole.
Much haggling, arguing, and demanding of names of supervisors ensued, during which I calmly repeated, “No, that’s not what you’re doing.”
I finally called upon the training I’d received during my years as a hostage negotiator (re: parent of toddler-sized children) and magnanimously acquiesced to the removal of one tree, and one tree only. But I had a list of demands that included:
- No driving on my grass with your ten-ton truck; do it by hand or don’t do it at all.
- No poisonous chemicals sprayed on my property to keep the tree trunk from resprouting.
- You will haul off every scrap of the object so that it will look as though it had never appeared.
- You’re not touching the giant oak tree. The Bradford Pear I’m willing to part with, but the limbs you want to cut back on the oak are not going anywhere.
As we’d been negotiating for longer than it would have taken them to remove the trees, clean up the aftermath, and go get a beer, they finally agreed. I set up a lawn chair and a glass of wine to watch the proceedings unfold, something that made them very nervous. I was also holding the garden hose and this is February; I made sure they understood that I might not be legally allowed to cause them physical harm, but I’m allowed to water my tree and my yard any time I like. One wrong move with a chain saw or failure to put the lotion in the basket would result in getting the hose again.
Point B: Yes, for the record, I actually said the words, “or it gets the hose again.”
So it’s two o’clock in the afternoon and I’m having a glass of wine in my front yard just to prove that I’m the kind of person who will drink at that time of day while babysitting a tree massacre. The fact that it was a follow-up to my lunch glass of wine is not important. As the unnerved gentlemen got to work, a car made a u-turn in the road and pulled up in front of my house. An old man jumped out and asked what was going to happen to the limbs that were being sawed off.
“I’m doing some landscaping, and if they’re going to put those limbs through their wood chipper, I’d like to have the chips.”
I’ve never felt more generous in my life. I walked over to the men who were removing a tree with a chain saw and axe instead of the giant blade attached to the arm on their oversized truck and said, “The man would like you to take the wood chips to his house when you’re done.”
“Uh, ma’am, we don’t do that. We just haul them off,” the poor, poor fellow said.
“Those are my wood chips. And I want them to go to his house. I’m giving them to him. He lives just over there, and I’m going to get him a chair so he can sit down and wait for my wood chips.”
So now the future wood chip owner and I were watching the workmen remove my tree. He declined my offer of a glass of wine, but was kind enough to hold the garden hose in a threatening manner while I got another glass for myself.
After the limbs were all chipped and the old man was hiding in the safety of his car, it was time to remove the large trunk. They resorted to the chain saw again while one of the workmen shot me nasty looks for not letting him just use the giant truck lopper. When the mighty trunk had fallen, he retrieved the poison to keep it from growing back.
“Uh, no. Remember our bargain?” I said, twirling the garden hose ominously between my fingers and taking a sip.
“How about if I get a rag, and spray it on the rag and wipe just the stump?” the other workman offered kindly. I am ruthless with my land holdings but not unkind, and I agreed to allow him to lovingly rub the tree stump with a chemical. The first workman was nonplussed.
Point C: I had already looked up the name and chemical composition of the poison while they were cutting. It’s halfway harmless. This was really just about being a bitch because they were taking my tree and I learned from a movie once that you can’t let the terrorists think they have the upper hand.
Afterward, the two men worked together to drag the trunk over to their truck, but instead of heading around back to the trailer with the wood chipper on it, I noticed the strangest thing: they tried to hoist it onto the platform of the truck, presumably to carry away.
“Excuse me, what are you doing with the trunk?” I asked sweetly.
“Well, there’s no sense chipping this bad boy. This here’s good firewood,” the first workman said somewhat condescendingly. As if I didn’t know that firewood was made from… wood.
“Yes, it is,” I replied in a Disney princess voice before morphing into a Disney villain. “It’s my fire wood. I’d like it in pieces about this big.” I showed them how large with my hands, then sat back in my chair.
The two workmen exchanged glances, and then the smarter of the two dropped his end of the trunk and reached for his axe.
“What are you doing?” the first workman asked in what he thought was a whisper, but it turns out you have to shout when you’ve got a wood chipper going.
“The lady said to chop it into firewood.”
“So what? We don’t give people firewood! We’re a removal service! We remove it!”
“Yeah. I’ll wait right here and guard the sharp stuff while you go tell her that.”
I almost got up to get another glass of wine while they chopped the wood, but decided this was an opportunity to demonstrate Christian temperance. Plus I had to go pick up my kids in an hour. They chopped and stacked the firewood, then loaded up in their truck (without saying goodbye, I must add) and followed the old man to his property to shovel the chippings out of the back of their truck.
Point D: I hated the tree they’d cut down. I even wrote a blog post once about how this very tree was planted by Satan and that it was trying to kill me. I’d actually looked into having it removed but it was going to cost $300. I now don’t have a plague tree in my yard, and I do have a stack of unholy firewood.
Now, I know there will be internet trolls who think I abused my power and made life miserable for two men who were just trying to do their job… oh, you thought there was more? No. That’s it. I did, I made life miserable for two men who were just trying to do their job. There was no “but” coming after those words. The end. My tree is gone, life is good, and I don’t suspect they’ll be back any time soon to attack my oak tree.