Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Como se dice en Espanol... "You're fired!"?

When we found out we were moving to Spain and would be living in base housing, we inquired about the size of the yard and what kind of work would be necessary to keep it looking nice. We were told that many people here simply hire Spanish gardeners for a decent price, which sounded like a great deal to us. That would mean we could leave our lawnmower and major lawn equipment in storage. Our weekends would be free to travel or do what we wanted because we'd be paying someone to do the yard work. Sweet!

Finding a gardener wasn't as easy as we'd thought. We asked a couple of neighbors to recommend gardeners, but each time we'd track down the gardener, we discovered he'd reached his limit of yards to manicure, and couldn't take on any new clients.

Finally we found a gardener who was available for hire and even though the price was a little higher than most, we knew he worked for other people in the neighborhood and they were satisfied with the results, so we hired the guy.

This man is incredibly friendly! He brought us fresh tomatoes out of his garden and he wears a smile and is pleasant every time he comes to the house. Of course he speaks literally NO ENGLISH, nor do we speak ANY SPANISH, therefore communication has been a challenge. Period.

I have scoured my Spanish-English dictionaries (Yes, plural... DICTIONARIES!) as well as the online translator website I found in order to communicate to the gardener what it is I want him to do. Most of the time I've been fairly successful at making my requests understood, however, there's one area that I simply cannot seem to get across to the gardener... weeding.

Evidently the Spanish do not believe weeding is an essential part of yard maintenance. I, however, do not subscribe to that same notion. I LOATHE weeds! I want them eradicated from my lawn. When I asked to have the weeds removed, the gardener agreed, but all he did was take a shovel and turn the soil over, which merely "hides" the weeds until they manage to "re-root" themselves and poke up through the soil a day or so later. It's like putting a Band-aid on a wound that needs to be stitched. IT AIN'T DOIN' THE JOB! I finally gave up and did the weeding myself, thinking perhaps my example would get the point across.

I complained and whined and groaned to my husband about this gardener, but what were we going to do, considering we'd left nearly all of our lawn equipment in storage? Sigh... When the gardener didn't show for nearly two weeks, I thought I was justified in my desire to fire him. I was ready to send him packing.

The gardener finally returned to the house, but wait... it wasn't the regular guy, but rather someone else doing the work. I walked outside to see what was going on, thinking perhaps a new gardener was in the area and had made a mistake about which yard he was supposed to mow. As it turned out, it was our gardener's son. The gardener was watching from a distance and he was wearing a neck brace and his arm was in a cast. He'd fallen while on a job a couple of weeks prior and that's why he hadn't shown for work. The son had taken on the lawn work for his dad, even though he had another full-time job. My husband teased me, "And you were going to fire the poor guy!" Okay, so I obviously couldn't fire the gardener at that point. I can't kick a guy when he's down. I'm not that cruel!

This week the gardener and his son came to do the yard work. I noticed the gardener's cast was gone, but he was still wearing the neck brace. They didn't do a particularly good job, leaving leaves scattered and using our good trash cans in which to put some of their yard waste. My husband came home and just sighed...

We have sad, ugly flowers in one of our beds, nasty trash cans, scattered leaves and, of course, we STILL have weeds. Now even my husband wants to fire the gardener. How do you fire a guy in a neck brace with his son helping him do yard work at Christmastime? Yeah... we're not firing the guy.

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