things not to be put up with

This is the kind of arrant pedantry up with which I will not put.
—attributed to Winston Churchill, probably apocryphal

We’ve had a gardener, Jerry, take care of the front yard for some years now. He comes on Monday when we have trash, recycling, and yard waste pickup. That way he doesn’t have to haul away the yard waste. The neighbors who used to live in the house to the south of us, Randy and Frances, introduced him to the neighborhood. They knew him from Frances’ days of managing apartments. Our neighbor to the north, Steve, moved away but kept the house and rented it out. He used Jerry until he got new tenants with two healthy, athletic boys.

We started using Jerry about the same time that Steve did. At the time I was commuting into Silicon Valley three or four days a week and wanted to free up time on my weekends. I’ve since become a full-time remote worker, but we’ve continued to use Jerry.

For some years now we’ve been permitted, in fact encouraged, to put food waste in the yard waste toter rather in the trash toter or down the garbage disposal. In fact there was a rate increase to cover this service. We’ve been doing that since Day One.

Some time last fall, I believe it was, I caught Jerry pulling food waste out of the yard waste toter and putting it in the recycle toter. WTF! The recycle bin? Not even the trash toter? Dammit, Jerry, we f***ing know what we’re doing! I had a fit, went storming outside and flung the food waste back into the yard waste bin, explaining, not all too patiently, that the green toter was yard waste and food waste.

This happened again some weeks later. I printed up a sign, saying both in English and in Spanish (thanks to Google translate):

Yard Waste and Food Waste
Do not remove anything from this container
Leave all items in this container

That should have been clear enough, even if the Google Translate Spanish was not optimal, which it likely wasn’t. This coincided with the winter months which meant I could bury the food waste under leaves and such. Eventually I gave up on the sign, as I had to replace it every couple of weeks since it was out in the elements. I trusted that Jerry and his crew got the idea.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I saw Jerry doing the exact same thing again. I again had a fit, again went storming outside and and again flung the food waste back into the yard waste bin, yelling, yes, yelling, “I told you before not to do that!” To which Jerry gave a simple, “OK.”

Then, when he was done, he had the temerity to ring the doorbell and ask for his check. Well, English not being his first language he rang the doorbell and said, “Money.” Certainly he is entitled to be paid. Of course. But I have been very diligent about paying Jerry, and I will take his check out and track him down if he’s working in another yard. It’s just that this was the last day of the month, and I was going to be paying bills that evening.

So I notified him that I was discontinuing the service. The money was an exacerbating issue, but it was not the main point. The point is that there are some things up with which I will not put.

One thing up with which I will not put is polluting the recycling stream.

Especially after repeated clarifications.

I considered whether I was cutting off my nose to spite my face, something my dad insisted that I examine before doing something potentially rash. But really, I’m not.

First, we’re saving $60 a month. And speaking of sixty, it won’t hurt to get this 60 year-old body out in the front yard mowing the lawn and raking leaves. My previous primary care physician commended me on my daily walks, but insisted that I needed to add strength training and stretching to the aerobic routine of walking. I consider yard work to fall into the strength training category, and really there’s stretching involved too.

A decision made and living with the consequences of that decision.

And so it goes.


One Comment on “things not to be put up with”

  1. […] wrote last October about how I had terminated the services of our gardener. In short, he didn’t understand that the yard waste toter was booth food waste […]


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