I’m going to tell you all right now that I don’t do construction. And by that I mean, I don’t like doing it, I don’t like being around when it’s done and frankly, just thinking about construction pretty much turns me into a big, old cranky-pants.
And that’s why I’ve been a cranky-pants for a while now. You see, when we moved into this house it had a yard that was mainly dirt with a few rocks, a dead tree and a couple of lizards thrown in. It was ugly, but maintenance-free. We lived with it for a while and then decided that maybe we should put in live plants and possibly some tacky yard art. And no, it didn’t have anything to do with the death looks we got from neighbors who were clearly jealous because we had the only carefree yard on the street and possibly the entire neighborhood.
Anyway, because Harry and I are both old and allergic to digging out dirt and putting in drainage and stuff, we decided to hire a contractor. I don’t know why they call them contractors, but I suspect it’s because when you hire them you sign a contract. Yeah, I’m smart that way.
Now, I read the contract. And I’m fairly certain that while the language used in it was at one point in time English, it was now in lawyerese. Which meant Harry and I signed it, paid some money to the guy and had no idea if he was going to landscape our yard or build an igloo on the roof.
That turned out to be the first of many things we didn’t understand about the contract.
For example, in it was something called a “start date.” Call me crazy, but wouldn’t you think that a start date would be the date the project would start? Yeah, me too. But it turns out the start date is just some arbitrary date the contractor throws in so that you never give up hoping that your project will actually start in your lifetime.
Instead, the start date came. The start date went. And still a landscaping crew was not sent. And when we finally called the contractor a month later to ask when he would begin, he sighed and said, “It takes time to create Eden.” This is contractor speak for, “someone else is paying more money so they got your start date.”
And then, just when we gave up hope that our personal Eden would ever be started, something wonderful happened. Yes, the porta-potty was delivered to our driveway! In fact, the porta-potty was dropped directly in the middle of our driveway so that we could no longer park in said driveway. How convenient was that? With our cars parked someplace else, all the neighborhood kids had room to line up to use our fancy outdoor plumbing.
Sadly, this was the last time we saw the porta-potty people. Nobody ever came by to empty the porta-potty. They didn’t even come pick it up after the project was finished. Instead, an entire colony of flies made the porta-potty their home. And once our yard was finished, the flies rose up and flew the porta-potty back to wherever it lived when it wasn’t stinking up our driveway.
But before the port-potty could leave, the project had to start. And that day finally arrived. On Harry’s day off, the crew arrived at 6:30 AM. And the first thing they did? Jackhammer out the walkway, of course.
But you know what, we didn’t complain. Because we knew that in four weeks we would have a lovely, dirt-free landscape. And four weeks came. And four weeks went. And it turns out that when we signed the contract and it said that the entire project would take four weeks to complete, what that actually translated to was “until death do we part.”
I know this because after ten weeks of jackhammering and planting and a stinking porta-potty relocated to just outside my dining room window, I wanted to kill the landscaper myself. With my bare hands. And possibly the jackhammer. Oh, I briefly considered death by drowning the man in the porta potty, but why should I be so mean to the flies?
But you know, it’s now over. And we have a lovely Eden. It’s not maintenance free, of course. But I like it better than the dirt patch. And I’m no longer a cranky-pants. Oh, okay. I’m not as much of a cranky-pants.
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