What's the answer?
So, I went home for lunch the other day. I drove down the rutted, potholed driveway, scraped by the grapevines and bull briars that over-reach the roadside and scratch the side of the car, turned the corner into the driveway, past the field where the windrowed, broken bits of my new-growth, metastasized scrub oak forest lay scattered over the grass. Inattentive because I was dwelling on the virtues of professional landscaping, the lack of which is a hallmark of our property, I nearly ran into a gigantic pumper truck from a well-known lawn and garden maintenance company. The maintenance man was poking the lawn here and there, fertilizing and weed killing. Unlike me, he had a system and a huge tank of liquid magic with which to feed and weed. Briefly, I exulted in the prospect of no weeds, green grass, and a spring and summer of funeral home-like property perfection.
But, the truth is, I hadn't ordered the professional treatment. The guy and his rig were there serendipitously - at least from my point of view. He was at the wrong house. The job was next door.
I said, You know, I think there's been a mistake. I didn't order all this.
He winced, You didn't, huh. Then he said something like, Egads.
I said, Who are you supposed to be weeding and feeding.
He checked his records in the cab of the behemoth. He told me.
Next door, I said.
Chagrined, but pushing on, he said, Well, you got a free lawn treatment.
And there's the problem, really a couple of them. I didn't ask for this, though had someone asked me, I would have said, Absolutely, bring it on. Until, that is, someone said, It will cost you XXX. Then I'd have said, On second thought, no.
But, I've had the benefit of it. Do I owe anything at all?
Plus, it's my habit to spread lime and fertilizer each spring from a hand spreader. I get 20 bags of palletized lime and three or four bags of fertilizer and push the thing back and forth over the lawn for an afternoon, and later in the spring the grass turns up green, in stripes. It's an unusual look, I know, but it's my look. (For all its shortfalls, I am proud to report, the heavy annual liming has about done in the rampant poison ivy that was my main lawn crop for years. There's a tip for you, take it or leave it.)
So, the other question is, how much of the lawn did he get to before I came home. What's been treated and what's not? I'd like to know, to decide where I still need to spread lime and fertilizer. I didn't ask the lawn maintenance man because it seemed self-serving. You know, here you are treating my lawn though I didn't ask you to do it and don't have to pay you, and by the way, how much did you get done? Sounds bad.
Christian was at home that day. When I came in, he said, So, you went big-time on the lawn this year, old man?
I said, No, of course I didn't.
He said, You mean, he wasn't supposed to be here?
How long, I asked, has he been here?
Hours, Christian said.
Oh, dear, I said.
So, I didn't call. I thought, what if the lawn person hasn't yet spoken to the boss about how he threw in an extra treatment that morning. What if my phone call set off a kind of labor-management falling out. I wouldn't want to be responsible for that.
And, on the matter of how extensive the treatment was, what right do I have to request information about a service I didn't ask for, or pay for? But, on the other hand, what if, despite Moll's and my best efforts to look for holes poked in the lawn that indicate where the treatment was done, we miss some, so we feed and lime some places that have been treated already, and we burn up the grass? Or, what if we don't feed where we think the treatment's been done, but it hasn't, and the lawn blooms with crab grass, dandelions, and pig weed? The lawn is no great shakes, but it's the only lawn we've got, and it doesn't need an unforeseen escalation in the erratic nature of the care I've given it over the years.
Thus, my dilemma. What's the answer?