Note: I finally broke down and started paying someone to take care of the yard, having fretted previously about justifying the expense. Turns out this was one of the best decisions, ever, and the joy of not having to screw with all that mess is indescribable. But I always know when the Lawn Guy is here, because that man can be LOUD. These are the auditory signals of his arrival:
1. The 18-wheeler slamming into a train.
Okay, it’s just a pickup and this long-ass trailer full of equipment, but when the man arrives, you’d think there was a forty-car pile pileup on the Interstate. He can’t just drive up and politely stop. He’s got to make sure that every piece of equipment on that trailer slams into something else, with at least two pieces of said equipment hurling themselves over the side of the trailer in a frenzy of mechanical suicide. I’m guessing he didn’t read the entire driver’s manual.
2. The reenactment of the Berlin Wall coming down.
This would be Lawnmower Man lowering the gate/ramp of the trailer. No automated regulation here, folks. He just slams the thing open with bad-childhood menace, resulting in an exploding thunderclap that echoes throughout the neighborhood, giving palpitations to the elderly, alerting gang members to the possibility of yet another drive-by, and occasionally triggering false reports of seismic activity in California.
3. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Tribute Medley
Actually, it’s his leaf blower and not a chainsaw, but you wouldn’t know the difference. This weapon, clearly manufactured in the jungle encampment of some pissed-off drug lord, has a noise level that breaks the previous upper-limits of the known decibel range. And that’s when the demonic thing is idling. When he revs that sucker up, going after leaves that can’t possibly offer any resistance, trees fall over and birds drop out of the sky.
4. The rhinoceros having sex on the patio.
It’s nice that he blows all the leaves off the patio, something he doesn’t have to do yet he takes care of it anyway. But with that G-force blower we have furniture flying through the air and bouncing off the side off the house. Even the wrought-iron stuff. It’s truly a display of man harnessing the elements, something that would be fascinating if it didn’t sound like the Gestapo raiding the house, really upset with me for having plotted with Veronika to take out Hitler.
5. The voice from the toilet.
It never fails. I always desperately need to use the facilities right when this man is here. (Perhaps my body is in shock from all the cacophony and it’s just natural instinct.) And he inevitably manages to start yelling into his phone right outside whichever bathroom I have chosen, bellowing instructions to other members of his crew as they annihilate neighboring lawns, scaring the hell out of me and sending me toppling for Jesus.
6. The saw-blade of Satan.
This would be the ear-shattering whir of the weed-eater, as it also gets ratcheted up to full-destruction mode and is unleashed on any bit of whatever that had the nerve to grow a mere millimeter beyond its designated length. This man does not mess around. If he wants you gone, you’re gone, even if you can’t hear yourself going. The military should have weapons like this.
7. The aircraft carrier pulling into port.
And we have the actual lawnmower, a term which can’t possibly adequately describe the shock-and-awe thing the man drives as he proves his domination over the tender green shoots. It’s massive, and I really am surprised that I haven’t seen fighter jets land on the thing, with a strand of weed-eater line keeping them from racing off the end of the lawn-ship. Of course, this traveling football field is just as loud as his cousins Blower and Eater, and just as apt to be confused with a Stage 5 hurricane.
8. The machine-gun dings on my phone as emails start pouring in.
I already don’t have a fond place in the hearts of my neighbors, so it should come as no surprise that they would have a negative reaction to the unhealthy cacophony emanating from my property. My inbox is quickly filled with nasty-grams of invective concerning twisted souls who arrange for Armageddon to take place at 8am on a Saturday morning. Vlad the Impaler had better social skills. Nothing they can think of doing to me could ever be punishment enough. But they are sure going to try everything they can to make my life miserable. Just as soon as they actually get out of bed and have some coffee.
9. The Japanese retreat from Pearl Harbor.
This is the pivotal moment when L-Man decides that things are just fine and dandy, and he signals to his crew that departure is imminent. Now we have running, yelling and clanging, with all of the equipment heaved back toward the long-ass trailer, with little regard for where things might land, what might happen when they do, and whether or not the folks three counties over really needed to hear all that.
10.The near-silence of the financial transaction when Lawn Guy rings the doorbell.
I hand him cash, he leaves, I close the door. Peace and serenity return.
Three days later, Scotch the Cat comes out from under the couch, with an attitude and legal papers from his lawyer.
So why do I keep using this Lawnmower Man, with his ear-decimating habits and the air-raid panic he instills when he’s here? Because he does an awe-inspiring job, I don’t have to lift a finger in the yard, and he’s fast. He can get everything done and be gone in 30 minutes, 40 minutes tops. It‘s amazing. It would take me the entire weekend, with a fistful of steroids and three gallons of Red Bull, to accomplish what he does in less than an hour. For this glorious aspect alone, I would happily give birth to his love child. But hopefully he’ll just settle for a nice tip…
(Originally published in “The Sound and the Fury” on 03/29/12. Revised and updated with extra flair for this post.)