Friday, June 12, 2009

Darryls and the Maple Monkey

When I first bought my house, I made the large mistake of hiring some tree trimmers who were driving around looking for work. The very short version: They tried to cheat me; I not only caught them but got over on them. Take that. Then there were several escalating phone calls back and forth, and I had a sanity attack. These knuckleheads knew where I lived! Was it worth $80 to have them burn down my house or poison my dog? Compromise reached, price paid, lesson learned.

Fast forward 20 years. A Darryl pulls up in a pick up truck as I finish mowing, and wants to talk to me about my trees. Yes, I know my trees are in pitiful shape. He starts out trying to put together a package deal. Nope, I say, just the giant dead limb in the maple tree, Darryl. He wants $125 but this girl has learned the magic word: cash. On instinct, I decide to squander the last of my birthday money: after some haggling, they agree to cut down and haul away the giant limb, and seal the wound, for $60 cash.

Now, I figure there are more Darryls in the truck, because the Darryl doing the talking is at least 400 lbs. He is actually bigger around than he is tall, and his gut sticks straight out about three feet, like Littermama in her last month. This guy has not left terra firma in a long, long time. Sure enough, two more Darryls climb out of the truck. The first is a tall, scrawny 18-year old with gray teeth; he looks like he'd need two more brains to be a half-wit. Darryl #3 isn't really a Darryl at all; he's also 18 years old, but clean cut, with intelligence shining in his eyes. He's maybe 5' tall and 110 lbs. dripping wet...and he is the Maple Monkey, who actually does the work. He scampers 25 feet up into the tree, ties himself in and then lowers himself to begin cutting the dead limb. He drops it by sections to Darryl 2 -- I've dubbed him Deliverance Darryl -- who hauls it to the truck. It's clear that DD has reached his maximum potential.

The whole thing takes less than an hour, and I think, hey, $20 an hour isn't bad for three high school dropouts. But then I realize that Fat Bastard Darryl is probably paying the boys $5 an hour. As they're packing up, I pay Fat Bastard the agreed-upon $60 cash, then I go up to the Maple Monkey. As I hand him a $5, I say, loud enough for both Darryls to hear, "And I'm buying lunch for the man who actually did the work!" MMs face split into a beautiful grin as wide as a western sky. Maybe because he'd gotten a tip, or been acknowledged for being the workhorse. Or maybe because I'd called him a man. This is a culture that takes no end of pleasure in teasing and tormenting "vertically challenged" men and this kid is going to have a tough row to hoe.

I'm living on a less-than-meager budget, and I can't afford to squander even $1, still (with Slumdog Millionaire fresh in my mind), it occurs to me that may be the best $5 I've spent all year.

If you're not familiar with the Darryls, you need to rent one or two seasons of Newhart, an 80s sitcom with Bob Newhart. (The inn in Vermont, not the psychiatrist.) They show reruns on one of the god stations, and it is still as funny as it was 20 years ago. The first season is hilarious, and the characters are introduced, but subsequent seasons, with Peter Scolari and Julia Duffy, are even better.


tim's wife said...

It's always the guys who do the most that get paid the least and
vice versa. I'd guarantee that's the case in every single company our tax dollars have bailed out.
Nice work La Cootina. I'm sure he'll remember it for a long time
and pay it forward somehow.

Michelle said...

Ok, so I'm laughing so hard I am crying...very funny, and very nicely done!! My brothers and I still make jokes about my brother Darryl (and my other brother Darryl)....and way to make a young man's day!