My sister Bethany called me today with a perplexing dilemma. It seems that she has a secret helper who has been doing "yard work" at her house while she and her husband are gone during the day. However, this helper has unwittingly caused hundreds of dollars of damage to both her plants, sprinkler system and her water bill so Bethany's wallet and conscience are at each other's necks. Intervention is needed.
It started about a month ago with a mowed lawn and some trimmed bushes. The lawn really did need a good mow. And even though the helper trimmed her large shrub rose bushes to such tiny stubbs that they will probably not survive the winter, it was a well intentioned gesture and Bethany didn't do anything. The bushes were scheduled to start blooming in the next few weeks but the eager gardener didn't seem to know about the specific pruning and blooming of roses. Just that the those bushes looked big and could use a nice missionary haircut. The visits continued daily since then.
Next, this secret helper took it upon himself to institute a vigorous daily watering routine (let's assume the helper is male in the spirit of peeved chicks). Except, my sister's sprinkler system is broken, and her hose that the helper is using has holes and cracks all through it so by the time she gets home from work, her front yard is an enormous puddle and the hose has been running ineffectively for who knows how long in the hot Utah sun. Ideally, you would water in the morning or evening to maximize benefits, but because our determined helper does not wish to be seen, he restricts his watering capers to mid day. You can imagine the watering bill my poor sissy is about to receive. Money is tight which is why she doesn't run the sprinkler every day in the desert.
Today I got a call from Bethany who was almost in tears. The helper's project this afternoon, apparently, was to try and fix her sprinkler system. Parts of it were ripped out and left useless and broken all over the lawn when she arrived home from work. Bethany had to spend an hour or so after a long day at work at Home Depot buying replacement parts to fix the mess. This is the part where things could get ugly and so she must proceed with tact but precision. She believes it may be someone in her church and thus, someone she could have a friendly relationship with already. And so in a true tizzy, she called the only person who truly understands the subtle nuances of social graces and diplomacy (ehem..), myself.
My advice to her was to leave a very nice note on the water spigot at her house tomorrow thanking the helper, and letting him know that she appreciates the thought but really prefers to maintain her own yard in her own way. Hopefully that should get the point across. But if our persistent little helper continues hacking her bushes and running her hose all day, I suggested she leave another note informing them that she'd have to file a complaint with the police if the trespassing didn't stop. And then of course, to tell the police if they continued trespassing and the men in blue could haul the helpful sprite off to the slammer to cool down a little. This may be harsh reward for a bit of friendly "helping" but it does seem presumptuous to assume you could cut down someone's rose bushes, run their hose all day and rip out their sprinkler system under the guise of anonymity with no repercussions. If they had left it at a mowed lawn and plate of cookies, we'd all be a lot happier.
It's always interesting to see how unfocused zeal can choke and destroy the things that we are trying so hard to improve. Good intentions get us in a lot of trouble. My other sister Annie (I have many, oh so many sisters) recently sent me a great short story she wrote about just that. It's a true tale and really well written. If you have a minute you should read it. Just keep in mind that Annie is one of the biggest nature nuts I've ever met and can't let an ant die without getting misty eyed.
Does anyone else have any better suggestions on how to deal with this eager beaver helper or is Bethany doing the right thing by bursting his bubble?