Thursday, November 17, 2011
Observations from a stranger in a strange land
Sleep proved to be elusive one day last week, it happens, there is just times that my nocturnal work schedule makes any decent slumber impossible during the day. Those days I am reduced to light catnaps with periods of roaming the house trying to find a restful frame of mind like it was some tangible but misplaced item that I could recover. It was during one of my periods of wandering the house that I caught sight of my neighbor across the street from my front door window.
I have lived in the same suburban purgatory for nearly eleven years now and I believe I have talked to the guy no more than three times, and briefly at that. Like everyone else in the increasingly gentrified collection of lower-level McMansions I reside around he is a long time resident caught up in his own life and activities almost to the point we barely exist in the same universe. From what I hear, it is a common occurrence these days across the country and because of my early onset curmudgeon attitude not one that I would even begin to want to rectify. When you realize you are a stranger living in a very strange land you come to appreciate the distance you keep between the locals and you.
Looking from my front door window I caught sight of him proudly marching out of his garage carrying his manly leaf blower like it was some weapon locked and loaded for combat. I forget the manufacture but it was huge and had all the macho bells and whistles for the anal-retentive suburban types ever ready to do battle with autumn leaves that dare to disturb the aesthetics of a clean looking curb or driveway. As expected after two quick pulls on the starter cord the machine roared to life blowing what I am sure was at least category-three level hurricane winds from its ferocious snout.
Like some ancient king might contemptuously review the commoner riff-raff he slowly strolled the curb blowing the leafy detritus onto his yard, every once and a while squeezing the hand throttle of the mighty blower like some renegade biker would do his chopper in an attempt to show off. Once he was done this prime example of a civilized and proper American man looked upon his work as if he had just finished sculpting a fine statue. Obviously satisfied with his work he again proudly walked back inside his garage.
Several minutes later after getting something to drink and wander around the house some more I look back out my front door window and see him atop his riding lawnmower looking for all the world like the Lone Ranger or Roy Rogers. This was no bargain basement model of a riding lawnmower, I have seen the same model at the local Lowes and my first car cost less than that fine mechanical stallion. Like his manly leaf blower it comes with all the neat, upper end accessories like real headlights, cup holder, and a vacuum attachment.
Using the vacuum attachment like those cowboy matinee heroes from the 1950’s caught bank robber or cattle rustlers, he sucked up the leaves in his yard that dared to fall on his uniformly green lawn. Neither Rommel nor Patton could have commanded such precision in how he drove across his yard never overlapping more than an inch from where he had already cleared the offending organic material.
Once done, he meticulously bagged the leaves the same way a hazardous material team might contain and collect toxic chemicals and then threw them into the back of his huge and equally impressive truck. Given the usual habits of local suburbanites, the destination for the bagged leaves was certainly the local trash collection point where they would later be hauled off to the nearby landfill and buried. I imagine hundreds or maybe thousands of years from now eager archeological students will dig up those non-biodegradable trash bags and open them to find those very leaves and wonder what in the Hell people were thinking back then.
With the show over, I finally wandered back to bed and fell back to sleep although it was short. Once my daughter came home a couple of hours later I was back up getting her situated so she did her homework, Soon after that, I was off to pick up my son from school. As I drove away, I noticed that the wind had blown leaves from other yards and along with trees on his property the curb and a large portion of his yard was covered again. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I figured there was some sort of statement that could be said about human stupidity and the fact that Mother Nature gives less than a damn about suburban lawn care.