“Damn you, Scuba Steve!” is my second favorite
My favorite moment in the Adam Sandler movie “Big Daddy” (what? Don’t you have one too?) is when he has to resort to public urination to solve the little boy’s “I have to pee NOW-NOW-NOW!” problem in the middle of New York City. It’s not that I’m some sort of weirdo who enjoys public urination in the cinema, it’s that I get a huge charge out of Adam Sandler’s reaction to the women at the outdoor cafe giving him the stink-eye: “Mind your business.”
You have no idea how many times each day that phrase runs through my head.
It never ceases to amaze me how eager people are to inject their unwelcome bullshit into other people’s situations. And it’s not just the unsolicited advice (or “assvice,” as Amalah is fond of calling it), it’s the obnoxious, self-righteous, blatant shoehorning-of-oneself-into-situations-that-do-not-concern-you that makes me want to sucker-punch people in the throat.
Case in point:
We own a house in the city, complete with sidewalk out front & huuuuge city-owned shade tree plopped right down in the middle of said sidewalk. We are responsible for the sidewalk. The city is responsible for the tree. But when the tree starts to interfere with the sidewalk…that’s when things get tricky. According to the All-Knowing City, the shade trees planted on our street were supposed to be the kind that grow “deep roots” that will not buckle the sidewalk. Well. You can imagine how that worked out. Our sidewalk has been replaced twice in the past 30 years because of the tree roots pushing the concrete all over the damn place. When we moved in, we noticed that the sidewalk was getting pushed up a little in one place by the tree roots, and in the short 18 months that we’ve lived there, the tree has decided to turn our sidewalk into a fucking diorama of the Rocky Mountains. And because a bumpy sidewalk = open invitation for some clumsy asswipe to trip and sue, we realized that a sidewalk replacement was in our near future.
This is how the [fucking expensive] sidewalk replacement process works: We pay to have the sidewalk removed. When the sidewalk is torn up and the front of our house looks like war zone, city forestry people come by and determine if the tree will withstand a root-pruning OR if a root-pruning will kill it. If a root-pruning will kill the tree, they will remove the tree. Once the city is done doing whatever they decide, we put down the new sidewalk and everything is right with the world. Except that we are poor and must eat ramen noodles for the next 5 months, but we can do so while marvelling at our spanking new expanse of concrete. Yay.
So last week is when Project Sidewalk officially began. We were no doubt the most beloved people in the neighborhood when the workers spent all day Wednesday jack-hammering the shit out of our sidewalk. I fully expected our cat (and perhaps the old lady across the street) to be bald from the stress when it was all said and done. But we all came through the sidewalk-busting with our sanity & hair follicles intact (I cannot speak for the old lady across the street; I haven’t seen her since. In fact, I haven’t seen her in a couple weeks. Oh God. Maybe someone should go over there and knock on her door.).
Now, when I came home and saw the sidewalk obliterated, it hit me that the end was finally in sight in the battle of Sidewalk v. Tree. We’d been dealing with the situation for several weeks (getting estimates for the job, getting work permits, getting generally pissed off at the whole situation), and now things were starting to happen. And because I am a sentimental asshole, I began to get kind of sad at the idea that they might have to cut down the tree. NEVERMIND that I have spent nearly two years cursing the tree and its incessant vomiting of leaves, sticks, blossoms and pollen all over our sidewalk, steps & front yard, NEVERMIND that I have had fantasies about a strike of lightning obliterating the thing so that I could finally grow some damn flowers or azaleas or ANYTHING besides fucking Hostas underneath that sun-blocking bohemoth, NEVERMIND that I once experimented in vain to see if just maybe a bunch of Round-Up might kill that sum-bitch…I was starting to get a little melancholy when I thought of them sawing the fucker down. It did shade the house nicely, and provided a lovely shield from the [very nosey and now possibly dead] old lady across the street, and – Oh, God – what about the birds & squirrels that probably live in it?! And their little bird & squirrel familes?! HOLY SHIT, I AM A MONSTER.
Early Thursday morning, the City Forestry Guy showed up to assess the tree root situation now that the sidewalk was gone. CFG told B that from what he could tell, the roots didn’t look too bad and the tree would likely stay. He was going to try to ensure that we’d at least get the branches (which were almost touching the house across the street) pruned this year. During this conversation, B noticed that some douchebag walking his dog had stopped to completely eavesdrop on something that did not concern him in any way, shape, or form. As B turned to come back inside, Dog-Walking-DoucheMonkey approached CFG, fully inflated with his douchey self-importance, and said, “You’re not thinking of cutting down this tree, are you?!?” and then launched in to a full tirade of douchebaggery about how we should save this tree WHICH WAS NOT ON HIS PROPERTY, WHICH HE KNEW NOTHING ABOUT, and most importantly, THE EFFECTS OF WHICH ON MY SIDEWALK HE DID NOT HAVE TO PAY THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS TO REPAIR. MIND YOUR BUSINESS, DOG-WALKING-DOUCHEMONKEY.
I don’t know who that fuckwad was; I can’t remember seeing him around before, but then again, I only know a handful of people in our neighborhood. But I do know that spent the rest of the morning dreaming about telling him to kiss my ass.
When we got home Thursday night, the tree was gone. Turns out that when they took a closer look, they found the culprit: a huge mass of roots that would surely kill the tree if removed. They had no choice but to chop down the tree, which they did. And while it’s a little sad, it’s a LOT fucking fantastic, as I finally get some natural light in the front half of the house and can now landscape the front yard with pretty flowers that will actually grow. Not to mention that we will not have to replace the sidewalk for a good loooong while. Glorious!
As for the asshat who felt so inclined to shame shame SHAAAME us for removing the tree (even though, at the time of his interference, CFG probably told him that the tree was staying, and then it DIDN’T, which: HA!), I have to admit that while I stand out front happily surveying my now-treeless sidewalk, I’m hoping he’ll come by again and start some of his shit with me so I can tell him that not only was it ultimately out of our control, but it was of absolutely no concern to him, so kindly fuck off. Because I am 100% sure he’s precisely the kind of asshole who – had the tree stayed – would sue us toothless if he ever happened to trip on the tiniest root-induced bump on our sidewalk.
So that’s my little tale involving trees, sidewalks, thousands of hard-earned dollars down the drain, neighborhood assholes, and MINDING YOUR BUSINESS. Took me a while to get there, but I think you’ll agree that we’d all be better off if we remember to MIND OUR BUSINESS the next time we think of opening our big, fat cakeholes. Of course, there are times when it is absolutely appropriate to interfere. See someone shoplifting? Starving their pets?Abusing their children? Vandalizing? Stealing? Maiming? Killing? Well then, by all means say something. But – for the love of God – learn the damn difference between “someone hitting an old lady on the head and stealing her purse” and “someone removing a tree from their property.” You have a moral obligation to interfere in one of those situations; and the old lady with the head injury really hopes you know which one that is.
Entry filed under: Taste my Backhand.