Wednesday, August 25, 2004

The log blog

First, let me get this right up front, I like trees. I say this, because when I tell you that I hired someone to cut down a couple of trees in my backyard, you could misconstrue that I have a grudge against nature. Not so. It's just that these two particular trees...Conifers I believe...have plagued my patio for years with an endless supply of needles, sap and debris. I've scrubbed and painted that damned patio for years trying to keep it clean and along comes wind and rain and it's covered with crap again.

So, I decided to put a stop to the madness. But getting trees removed is not as simple as it sounds. You don't just call lumberjacks.com and have a bunch of guys with chainsaws swoop down and carve cute little bears out of the logs. You have to call trained tree engineers or arborists and coax them into driving all the way out to the suburbs and giving you an estimate. It's not unlike looking for a relationship in the personals. I called one person three times trying to get them to come out and give me an estimate. But nope. Apparently tree removers are pretty busy and can be real selective. It's like, "Sorry, your trees just don't sound interesting to me. It's not you, it's me."

Finally, out of nowhere one day I get a spam e-mail from a tree service in my area. A sign, I thought. I went to the guy's Web site and sent him an e-mail asking for an estimate. I like Web sites with e-mail contact forms. I don't like to talk on the telephone, especially with strangers. It's one of my quirks, but that's for another blog.

Okay, the guy responds and says he'll drive by and leave an estimate. I'm hopeful, almost giddy at the thought of actually having someone respond. So I wait. He stands me up. Then another e-mail apologizing and a promise to show up in a couple of days. And true to his word, he drops by and leaves an estimate. He'll cut down both trees, cut the wood into 18-inch rounds for firewood and chip and remove the branches plus clean up! All this for $750. Okay, it sounded reasonable to me. At no time did I stop to consider that a). 18-inch rounds of wood are pretty horking big and b). My fireplace is gas. This was stupid mistake on my part number 1.

The tree remover asks that I leave a check for the tree removal for them when they arrive the next day to remove the trees. I do so. This was stupid mistake on my part number 2.

Now I live in Seattle and this summer has been unusually dry. We went without our signature rain for months. So, ironically the day they are scheduled to work on the trees, it begins to rain. I come home expecting no trees and instead find a large chipper parked in my driveway and a tree and a half still standing. I'm assuming the rain has made it more difficult to cut down trees so I am patient. Day two, one tree was down but number two is still holding fast to life. Finally I come home on day three and both trees were gone, the chipper had been removed and my patio was swept clean. The corpses of my former conifers lay where the trees fell and appeared to be cut in the 18-inch rounds. On closer inspection, only one of the trees had actually been cut into 18-inch rounds. Only half of the other tree seemed to be cut up into sections. I was left with a backyard full of wood rounds and an eight-foot log that would require a burley Scotsman to pick up and move. Having no plans to hold Highlander's Games in my backyard and not having easy access to a chainsaw, I was left with a dilemma and lots of wood. Add insult to injury, the wood was covered with thick vines of ivy that had been choking the poor trees for years, ivy that one assumed would have been chipped with the branches and hauled away.

Okay, so I'm assuming that there has been some misunderstanding and I e-mail the unnamed tree service and ask why the wood wasn't cut up as promised and the debris hauled away. I get an apologetic e-mail saying a crew would be dispatched that week to finish up. This was two weeks ago. He won't return my e-mails now. I can't call because of that issue I have with telephones. So, basically, I'm screwed.

Bottom line is that you shouldn't trust people who remove trees for a living (especially ones who spam you) and never pay for things until the job is complete. So I'm a sap in this scenario (ha ha ha ha...at least I can laugh at myself).

By the way, anybody out there want some free wood or an eight-foot confer log? They make great Christmas presents.

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