Friday, May 24, 1996
I Need A Good Laugh.
It's starting out to be one of "those weeks" where everything hits the fan all day long. Each time I walk back into the retail building from a landscape evaluation meeting, everyone wants a piece of me: do this, do that, phone call, go here, go there, phone call, help with this, help with that, phone call, design this, design that, phone call, what about this, what about that, phone call, estimate this, estimate that, more phone calls and on and on and on... Time out already!
That's my job and I really enjoy doing it, but there's just no breather in between lines of people waiting two and three deep to see me about one thing or another. I do enjoy helping people with their problems; a true measure of one's ability isn't what problems you have, rather it's how you solve the problems you do have.
We're known for, among many other things, solving problems that the other garden centers and nurserys can't, or won't even try to solve. They don't have the expertise to figure it out and get it done successfully. We excel at this and in many other areas of difficulty. Ok, enough rest: bring on the next set of problems.
Here Comes A Good Laugh.
Here's a real "gem" that a friend sent to me last week (thanks, Helen). I laughed so hard while reading it that the milk I was drinking with my sandwich came out of my nose and splashed the monitor and keyboard. Yuk. I hate it when that happens.
Enjoy this little ditty with me. But first, put that glass of whatever you're drinking down and swallow...
A Sense Of Humor.
Whenever I deal with other people, a sense of humor is useful. In some cases it's mandatory and without it, I'd be a lost puppy.
A few people are a bit nervous when I give a landscape evaluation; it's my job to calm them down and put them at ease. I can't tell what will work until I meet the people and get 10-15 seconds to size them up; then it's easily done and we're off and running. A couple of joking comments or a self-effacing remark will often break the ice and let them know that we're on the same level here. Many people are quite self-conscious about my reputation for being very knowledgeable, forthright and honest about whatever is the subject of discussion.
I enjoy these evaluation sessions, as they afford me the opportunity to go through every piece of plant material on their property and critique the health and future of each item. It's an educational process for the owner, who are stunned to find out the truth about their plant material, often very contrary to what the so-called "landscaper" said when they originally installed the material. Disease? Insect infestation? Remedies? Cultural practices? Growth rate and suitability of placement? Future value and potential? These and many more criteria are used in evaluating the individual pieces' placement in the overall scheme.
No Sense of Humor.
Once in a while, I meet with someone who has absolutely no sense of humor at all. And I wonder how they survive in a world when they've never cracked a smile or had a good belly laugh.
"I want low maintenance plants. Yews. Junipers. Arborvitae and Rhododendron. Nothing that I have to take care of. Nothing that requires any effort or work. I don't want to spend much doing this. I've heard that you're very, very good but also very expensive. Keep the cost under $15 for the whole job."
Yikes! You couldn't even buy a half yard of mulch for that. It's time to tell them the truth about reality and I'm elected.
After they've finished sobbing, I leave a card and tell them that when they're ready to get serious about a landscape contractor's services, please call me for another meeting. If not, go to K-Mart or Wal-Mart and for $15 buy a whole truckload of their shitpy plants; you'll probably have some change leftover to buy a burger and beer.
Today is Saturday, May 18th and we have a lot of exhibitionists errr, exhibitors on site today. The Susquehanna Valley Chapter of The American Rhododendron Society is holding their annual exhibition, judging and public sale here all day.
The entire club of 75 won't all be here, just the most dedicated members who want to show off their prize-winning specimen Rhododendrons, which they're worked hard on for many long years to breed and refine genetically.
This is a very prestigious event to host, as we are doing this year. The Society has always chosen their place of Exhibition with great care; this year I convinced their president to allow us to host their event. Our facilities are unlike anything they've ever seen before; very upscale and modern. They indicated that they want to come back next year for a two-day event and modify the program to allow the public to purchase rare and unusual rooted cuttings of their own making. Very nice and thank you!
Rhododendrons, orchids, roses; all plants can be exhibited and judged if enough care and time is invested. Even weeds can be made to look like winners in a serious judging contest. (It's been said that perennials are merely weeds with a college education...) Again, these plants are owned by Type A Personalities, who drive themselves (and their plants) toward perfection.
Just in case you're not familiar with Rhododendrons or due to the long winter have forgotten what they look like, here are some real beautiful specimens and almost everything you want to know about the genus.
To invest the time (we're talking many, many years here...) in preparing plant material for exhibition, judging and sale to purists and enthusiasts, a person drives all factors to the limit - pushes the envelope - to get his or her specimen to "The Show". Although behind the scenes somewhat as far as the actual judging is concerned, the exhibitor is nevertheless the mainstay of any exhibition. S/he knows they are the ones ultimately being judged; their work is a absolute reflection of their desire to win. People who invest this much of a lifetime, money and effort require recognition and praise; hoping to win their Category of competition and the much coveted, Best In Show.
The past two days, Saturday and Sunday, have seen summer arrive with a real vengence. 90F+ and very humid. This is the inhospitable weather that Becky, my sister who lives in San Francisco, said they'd had the week before. Just awful. Monday and Tuesday promise to be near 100F too and unbearably humid. The plants that looked so lush and green a few days ago are wilting fast. (It takes 20,000-25,000 gallons of water daily to irrigate all the plants on this 20-acre complex.) The heat happened so quickly that their lush, new growth didn't have a snowball's chance of hardening-off to withstand the oppressive heat and drying southwest winds.
I've heard from over 20 readers about my comments on the Two Season Syndrome that I mentioned in a earlier Journal entry; that is, appreciably no Spring or Fall anymore because of the overlapping Summer and Winter seasons. Thanks for the comments. I'm glad I'm not alone in noticing this slightly unnerving phenomenon.
On my way back to the Garden Center from a jobsite Wednesday, I saw a horrible accident unfold about 400ft in front of me: a turning car was hit broadside by another coming in the opposite direction and spun around into the oncoming traffic where it was hit by yet another car. Two cars rolled over, three spun out after crashing into each other and landed in nearby farm fields. The worst were the three from the initial series of impacts. Six other cars from both directions, for a total of nine, were involved. Debris, blood and bodies were strewn around the intersection and surrounding fields like so many pieces of litter thrown by careless motorists. It appeared that none of the badly-injured victims were wearing their safetybelts since they had been thrown from their vehicles. The other motorists were wearing their belts, and had saved themselves from serious and life-threatening head and chest injuries.
I immediately called 911 on my Jeep's mobile phone to summon medical, police and fire assistance. Other motorists, including a doctor, a nurse and two paramedics stopped to assist. I checked the victims for pulse and respiration, stopped a badly gashed neck from spurting blood, then got out of the way for medical personnel take over quickly while I directed traffic for the next 25 minutes. All victims had bad head and neck injuries. After giving statements to police, I left for my next landscape evaluation meeting in the southern end of the county, splattered with four peoples' blood. It was a scene that I won't forget for quite sometime.
Please, wear your seatbelt and help avoid this kind of needless destruction.
Since January 26th, when my WebSite went up, I've made many acquaintances and some friends on the Web. Of the thousands of people I've talked to through Email and PowWow, I've only met a handful. They're wonderful, kindred souls whom I personally like. And there are many I'd like to meet that I probably never will have the chance to.
It would be cool to meet everyone we talk to; maybe someday when our computers are equipped with mini-cameras as standard operating equipment, we will be able to see each other. Until then, a giant WebStock (nay Woodstock) would have to be held for the millions of people to gather at and revel in the spirit of cyber-comradery. Not too likely, though. WebStock? Naaaahhhhhh...
We're more like ships passing in the night than acquaintances, really, those of us who regurlarly correspond on the Web. Perhaps it is better that we don't try to meet; the need is fufilled at its current level and anything more might be upsetting the delicate balance that built-in anonymity provides each of us.
Things are fine as they are. Don't rock the boat just yet.
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