Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Babies Juggling Chainsaws - A Story of Craigslist Faith

This is a true story of a situation that could have gone very wrong, but didn’t.  I choose to view it as a testament to old fashioned trust, meeting up with a great work ethic.
This spring I had finally had enough.  The yard had been steadily getting worse over the last 3 – 5 years, as we were doing only the bare minimum to keep up with it.  We had to admit defeat over the overgrowth of bushes, trees, weeds and uncharted, plant-able areas.  I say “we”, because my husband lives here too, but would rather hang by his toenails than spend weekends carrying out landscape projects.  Whatever happened to kids (my own, the neighbors’) who would do odd jobs for cash? 
On a whim, I opened up my local Craigslist page and searched “landscapers”.  One of the first to pop up was clearly put up by an individual and not a big company.  The ad said they served ours and the towns surrounding us, and contained a number I spontaneously dialed.
After an initial overview, we settled on a date for him to come out and look at the job.  He showed up promptly, in a new pickup truck with a small wood chipper unit in back.  I was struck by how young he looked, but he listened intently and was professional.  We settled on a date to start the work.
On that date he showed up ready to work and brought his younger brother.  Adorable, brace-faced kid I figured for maybe 15.  What followed was the most anxiety-inducing afternoon of my life
Watching two kids, on a ladder, with a chain saw hacking and trimming and using a wood chipper was agony.   I mean, it literally felt like I’d hired babies to juggle chainsaws on our property!  I gave the younger one some work gloves, and sheepishly asked if they had safety goggles.  Nah.  I also distantly wondered if their mother knew where they were.
They worked like troopers until nearly dark and did an amazing job.  In one day, the yard was taking shape!  I will not tell you what they charged, but I will tell you I paid about a third extra and told them they are under-valuing their work.
I found myself inviting them back for more yard projects.  Instinctively, I knew I’d found a gem.
The second visit, he brought his sister.  A beautiful young girl who pulled every weed, no matter how small.  I couldn’t resist asking “how old are you and your brother?”  She replied that she’s 18 and he is 26.  Twenty six!  A grown man, who I had taken for maybe 19.  Sadly, everyone looks like a teenager to me these days.
They have been back to our yard 4 times, and scheduled for a 5th.  Last time, an older brother came, too.  He worked until dusk with the other guys.  That time, as I brought them sandwiches, I couldn’t resist asking “how many of you are there?”  To which he replied, “twelve”.  I’d like to shake the hand of those parents. 
How many of us, usually myself included, would be too afraid to take such a leap of faith?  I mean, they could have been anyone, and up to anything.  But in this instance, not over-thinking it yielded one of the best contractor experiences I’ve had as a homeowner.  And, it feels good to give money to such industrious, professional and pleasant “children”.   
So, for me the moral of the story is that sometimes, “cover your ass” mentality keeps you from the very best things.  Try a little more trust – in your own judgment, as well as the decency of others. 
Helen Keller said “Avoiding danger, in the long run, is no safer than outright exposure”. 
Wonder if she ever used a chain saw.

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