The guy knocking on my front door in the middle of a weekday doesn’t seem like a Jehovah. Or Seventh Day Adventist.
And it’s too early in the season for the disadvantaged teenagers hawking out-of-print magazines in 1000 degree heat or college kids indentured to knife companies or solar energy schemes.
That’s probably why I answer the door. Maybe he needs help. Lost a dog. Or is a long-lost boyfriend and found me on Facebook. I dunno why, but I answer it.
“Why hello there! Nice to see you, such a fine day! Sure hope I’m not bothering you, ma’am, just have a quick question.”
Uh-oh. His chipper demeanor and overly enthusiastic smile immediately signal he’s gonna try to sell me something, so I brace myself with a best give it your best shot then get off my porch look.
“Your lawn: what’s the plan?” he asks, waving his arm towards my lawn like they are old friends.
Does he say this to all the girls, or is he trying to pick me up because of my lavish attention to horticulture and perennial design?
I’m working from home, per usual, and don’t welcome the interruption, no matter how lonely I am. So I step one foot onto the porch, just one, leaving the other inside, precariously propping the storm door open with a hand still on the door knob to send the signal: talk fast dude. You’re on borrowed time.
The dog doesn’t like him either, the relentless yapping pierces my soul.
“Hey there little fella,” he smiles at the high-pitched six pound house-bound vermin headbutting the glass door. “Does he bite?”
“She. Yes SHE does,” I say, glaring. “Hard. What can I do for you?”
He hands me a fancy green and gold embossed business card, which matches his fancy name badge, the same bright, promising green as his button down shirt, and proceeds to tell me he just has a few questions. About spring lawn clean up solutions and seasonal maintenance, and he’s talking with all my lovely neighbors.
“So, what are your plans for the season?”
Plans? What plans?
The crabgrass has yet to turn green, lawn yet to be mowed, and dandelions yet to poke their happy yellow faces from their long winter’s nap and dance all over my yard.
I look over his shoulder and survey the mole riddled yard, patchy like a high school kid trying to grow his first beard over acne scars. Proofs of life and lawn are just under the surface, interrupted by circles of dead grass killed by strategically placed pee circles, like crop circles, except by canines and not aliens.
“Don’t need a lawn service. I have kids. Four. My kids are the landscapers. Cheap. As in free. They do the yard, but thanks anyways.”
“For the price you pay for fertilizer, gas, and maintenance, we could do it for you,” he said confidently, flipping open a brochure. “We could get this place — ”
“Stop. We’re good. Really. My kids do it, but thanks.” As I turn to go back inside, he starts up again, like a chainsaw you hear through the woods, and you wait for the tree to fall.
“Then how ’bout we give them some lawn to mow? Pretty sparse here, mostly weeds. Lots of dog damage. How ’bout we plant some seed, maybe lay some sod, get your property lush. It’ll give your kids something to work with, you know? Some grass to mow.”
What the fucking fuck?
I may have the shittiest lawn on the street, but I have nice kids. Really nice kids. In part, I think, because they do the yard.
They hate me for it, but they mow the crappy grass, weedwack the weeds, spread the mulch, and blow the leaves. They complain about it for days, and fight with each other, and eye-roll me, but they get it done because it’s their job and they know it.
Wait. There’s more.
They also go to the dump, and take out the recyclables. In the winter, they shovel, snow blow. In the fall, rake leaves, split and stack wood. Because duh. That’s why we had all these kids to begin with. This was our master plan all along: free lawn service.
When they were younger, they had poop duty, picking up massive canine lawn bombs of first Bernie, the Bernese’s poop, no easy task, then playing Where’s Waldo with little itty-bitty Lola droppings. This was usually assigned as punishment for back-talking. Or sassing. Or smart-alecky. Or a dick. Whatever you want to call it. Now they’re pretty awesome most of the time, but I’m not, so I’m on poop duty.
They don’t get paid; they get to live here.
I don’t regret exploiting my kids for cheap labor. I’ve been cheating child labor laws since the mid Y2K (read more here), and don’t regret one minute. I’ve got four (and a half) kids growing into mighty fine adults, and I think maybe raking and weeding might have something to do with it.
“Here’s the thing Mr. GreenThumb: my goal isn’t to have a great yard, it’s to have great kids.”
So get off my shitty lawn, sir, and I go back inside, leaving him to walk away, dodging the piles of poop along the way.