Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Jen's Week from Hell, Part 1

Playing in the background: Andreas Vollenweider. No, I'm not a fan, he just happens to be on Sirius XM Spa. (I find him a little annoying, actually.)

I went to a meditation retreat last weekend. By all rights I should be typing this nice serene post about how cool it was to sit on the ground with the bugs and the snakes and meditate all weekend. Alas, it is not so. First of all, it's been pouring buckets for days, so there was no sitting on any ground, and the bugs and snakes were all hiding someplace dry. Secondly, my neighbor, who's about as smart as Mater from the movie Cars (minus the cheerful disposition), spent most of the weekend demanding money from Joan. Who would then call me (yeah, I know, I wasn't supposed to answer my cell phone) and tell me about it and, well, anyway, a serene time was not had by all, okay? And that's not even considering the loud thunderclaps and the eerily bright lightning strikes.

Let me back up a second here. See, we have this tree (see above). Well, had this tree, but I'll get to that in a second. It's a live oak, it's actually two trees (probably started out as one and split into two, like identical twins, how cool is that?) and it lives in our front yard, where it's been for 60 or 70 years. Since before the house was built, anyway, which happened back in '52. This tree has a couple of branches that shade our neighbor's driveway. I don't mean block; they are way, way up high. I mean shade.

About a year ago he decided these branches were dangerous and asked us to have them trimmed. We had a tree guy come out and he cut off a number of the smaller branches but pronounced the large one sound and said it could stay. Our neighbor had a cow because we didn't cut the tree to his specifications. He wanted us to call the tree guy back and have him cut the large branch. We gave him the guy's phone number and said, "Sure, give him a call." When he figured out we weren't planning to pay for something we didn't think was necessary, he got all kinds of upset. When he found out the tree guy wanted something on the order of $400 to take out the big branch he got even more upset.

Fast forward to this weekend. After talking about it for months, our neighbor came over and announced that he was having the tree cut this weekend and we would need to pay for half the cost. Now, mind, in the state of Texas we're not obligated to pay him a cent. As long as we maintain the tree in healthy condition, and unless the silly thing falls on him and damages something, we're good. He can, of course, cut back any branches that hang over his property. Because he's our neighbor, and it is our tree, we offered him $200. I'm unemployed, remember? This is a stretch. Indeed, a serious reach.

So I leave town and while I'm contemplating my toes, he comes over and tells Joan that the price he was quoted has suddenly gone from $500 to $800. Now, I wasn't here so I don't know what happened but I think he basically browbeat and/or threatened her into offering an extra $100. Our grocery money for the week. I'm not sure where he thought we were gonna get it. Out one of the cat's asses, maybe?

Well, he or his wife evidently decided that $500 was still too much so he climbed up there himself, with a chainsaw, and cut down this enormous branch. See above re: about as smart as Mater. This guy should not be allowed to use power tools. I'm not even sure he should be allowed to drive a car. But, anyway, he cut the branch, which is taller than me and about as big around, and left it sprawled in my front lawn, along with all the smaller branches in a big ridiculous heap that's probably a fire hazard and certainly a code violation. The only good thing about the heap of branches is that our view of his house is now completely blocked.

After which he still demanded the money. I am not kidding. Said he'd hired two or three assistants to help him at a cost of almost $300. Couldn't produce a receipt or anything, said it was a handshake deal. And then accused me of trying to cheat him. I said wait a second, we agreed to pay you when you were going to hire someone, and we offered $300 when the price went up to $800. If it's down to $300 then we shouldn't have to pay more than $150, and since it's gonna be at least $300 to haul all this away, we should be even.

Well, then he got really mad. And to make a long story shorter, I finally told him we'd give him the original $200. I mean, sometimes it's easier to part with some funds than fight about it. Boy, was Joan mad at me though. At least, I thought she was mad at me, and I was checking my coffee filters for strychnine. I have life insurance, ya know. Turned out she was just mad because he was being such a putz.

And, yes, we still gotta haul away the leftovers before the City cites us for a code violation. I have three quotes and I like the middle one best, but it's an academic exercise at this point because, uh, we still don't have any money.

Some good times, huh? Then Caesar the Cat got sick. Well, to be continued on that.

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