Thursday, May 21, 2009
I no longer have to hang my head in 'lawn maintance shame' in my German neighborhood
Just look at how tall the grass is/was! For a clearer image.. click on the photo
AND, I know that they WERE talking about me!
I don't have a lawn mower. I tried 6 weeks ago, to hire a teacher's husband who had advertised as doing 'yard work.'
I did an email search to find the name of the person who had sent the email advertising her husband.. the week before we went on Spring Break and sent an email to the teacher spouse... (since, I didn't know who he was or how to contact him) she wrote back and said that 'YES, he still did have openings.'
She apparently either called him or sent him an email... because, later that day.. I received an email from him.. saying that 'YES, he was interested and did have time and when did we want to set up the first meeting and lawn mowing/maintance visit?' Other lawn mowing dates could be scheduled without myself having to be present to fit better into his schedule.
Since, this was Monday.. I decided that Friday would be a good day.. it would give him enough time to reply back if there was a scheduling conflict so that we could re-schedule. I had also sent by email my phone number and directions to my house. He knew the town- since, he had told me that he already worked for someone in that neighborhood.
So, when I didn't hear anything back from him.. I considered the plan a GO, right? At least that is the way it is in my brain and in my past experiences. I left for home as soon as I could and waited and waited and waited. No lawn guy (American) shows up, no phone call is made, no note was found on my door.
So, even though I had already spent several weekends.. trimming trees, plants, and pulling up dandelions and other various 'yardy' type of activities to get my yard ready for the summer. I finally decided that weekend- that since I couldn't wait anymore- that I would just finish up the yardwork myself. I filled 8 bags with clippings. I also borrowed the landlord's lawnmower and mowed the yard.
I, again tried to make contact with the 'missing yardman' and even tried to 'pretend' that I wasn't able to connect with him- if he had tried to call.. because.. of the German answering service. They do call your house and replay a message in German to let you know what numbers had called your house and the recording says the numbers in German.. which I don't understand. This is all true, but my house phone is also like a cell phone- it gives you the number of all incoming calls.
So, eventually I got an email from the husband.. that "Yes, he still was interested in taking care of my yard." So, I wrote him immediately back and gave him 9 different dates.. that week and the following week that he could choose from as a day to come by my house... for lawn maintance/mowing. *I didn't need anything for the next few days- since, I had just spent the weekend doing what needed to be done.
About 5 days passed.. and I got another email from him suggesting a date that I did NOT PUT DOWN (duh, there must have been a reason.. it was a date that didn't work for me!) We had a staff meeting after work and they usually last an hour and half.. plus, I had errands and other planned activities that night. So, I wrote him right back and told him that that date wouldn't work-- and could he come on any of the other dates that I had already suggested (and which were in this message) and I also said.. 'IF none of these dates work for you- please suggest a different date.'
Let's just say.. it's been 3 weeks and I haven't heard back from him.. so, I guess that none of those dates worked for him. What do you think?
I had had enough, tired of waiting on this guy with a limited work ethic.. and was tired of the feeling like I should sneak into my house, eyes darting to the side, not making eye or sound contact. (My landlords live next door and they are working in their yard everyday and must mow it every 3 days.) We've had a lot of rain and I could see the grass getting taller everyday... I'm sure that they and the neighbors were talking about me.. "THE AMERICAN WHO DARED NOT TO MOW THEIR GRASS FOR 3 WEEKS!"
Last Friday, I stopped by the housing office on base (the go between office for German landlords and the American tenants) and asked them if they knew of any German landscapers/yard people/etc. They gave me the phone number of 3 men.
The next morning was Saturday and I made my phone calls. The first guy answered the phone and was very nice, spoke really good English and asked where I lived. I asked him about his rates. He told me it was 30 euro per HOUR! Mama mia! He also told me that he'd have to see my yard to tell me how much time that he thought it would take each month. *All I can think of is.. the hours and hours that I had already spent cutting branches, pulling weeds, etc.
I told him that I'd think about it and hung up. I called the second phone number- it was a fax number of a wrong number.. but, anyway.. you know that irrating noise that can cause you to spill all your secrets? That was what I heard. I called the third number and it was an answering machine. Darn, what to do. So, I called a friend who had lived here for a few years. She suggested that I just buy my own lawnmower and do it myself. (I didn't feel comfortable needing to always use my landlord's mower nor have them constantly monitoring my lawn mowing schedule.)
I don't have a place to store a lawn mower unless it is right there on my patio which is in the elements during rain and snow. I also think that I might have a 'torn ligament' in my left knee and if that is true.. there will be no lawn mowing for me this summer.
So, I finally decided to just call the guy that actually answered my call back and ask when he could come by to check out my yard. I figured that I didn't really need to purchase a satelite dish, a converter box, or pay several hundred dollars to have someone install all of this stuff so I could watch a couple of channels in English. After all, I had lasted almost 10 months without TV reception. Sigh... Double sigh.. Ok, I was ready to watch some American TV.
The lawn guy was able to come to my house that morning! He was right on time. Always a good sign. Had a firm handshake, had a sense of humor, and laughed when I told him that I was feeling 'lawn care stress' from my landlords! He also told me that he had another guy who came and worked with him. So, even though.. he charged more per hour than the NO SHOW American spouse... I figured that two people could certainly work more than twice as fast as one person.
He couldn't come that day-- probably a day off.. since, the German workweek is short-only 30 hours or maybe less depending on the job. (I'm not sure if those short hours also applies to Lawn care people too?) We'd also had too much rain in the past few days.. so, Monday was going to be out of the question. He told me that he thought that Tuesday or Wednesday would be possible. We exchanged emails. I asked that he email me the day that he was going to come to my house that week.. before 3pm so that I would come home in time for him to be there.
AND, wouldn't you know.. that on TUESDAY my landlady rang the doorbell and asked me if I wanted to borrow the lawnmower! I know that they probably looked out their 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th floor windows (one house) looking out in daily distain at my fast growing grass... that looked like it was ready to get a hay-bailer in any day. At least, I had the pleasure of letting her know that I had hired a yardman and that he would take care of the yard one day this week.
AND.. oh happy day.. they came by yesterday and made my yard all spiffy and clean, cut tree branches, used a weed eater, etc. They were there for an hour and half and only charged me for one hour.
HE also took the 8 bags of clippings/trimmings/branches that I had cut over the past several weekends with him to take to the 'natural plant' recycle place. I didn't know where it was.. and he did at least tell me that you can only take things there 2 afternoons a week. AND, I didn't know it.. but, you aren't suppose to put this stuff in plastic lawn/garbage bags. I didn't know about the 'no plastic bags' allowed and that is what I'd done.
I paid him in advance for 3 visits in June and told him to come at his convience and the yard's need.