Mar 23,2007 00:00
Once upon a Monday I met Mr. Becker, the landscape guy. He arrived while I was cooking lunch, grumpy-hungry. I was prepared to spend money on my flower bed, but it ended up costing something more precious: my time.
“Fair enough,” I said.
“Yup,” he said, looking around. “We’ll have to dig 'em up.”
There was an awkward silence followed by an awkward silence. I waited for Mr. Becker to say something, but he just kept nodding his head. I felt compelled to pinch him.
Mr. Becker is a human speed bump. Speed bumps are not always gardeners. I once had a doctor who kept me 45 minutes to explain his views on dehydration. So it goes.
“The snapdragons,” said Mr. Becker, “are seasonal flowers, so they won’t live through the winter.”
“Which is why you’ll have to dig them up.”
“We’ll have to dig 'em up.”
Mr. Becker kicked a rock and exhaled deeply. It was his “thinking breath.” It seemed that I was his only appointment today.
At this point, a little Buddha appeared on my shoulder. Jasonsan, everyone you meet has something to teach you. Be quiet and find out what it is.
I looked at Mr. Becker ... quietly. He was still eyeing the rock.
“Snapdragons,” he mumbled.
My stomach growled. Buddha urged me to be strong. Release your self-importance; surrender to the moment.
“How much will the flowers cost?” I asked.
Mr. Becker ran his fingers through his hair. A weighty question indeed. He would need time for a question like that. All day perhaps.
“Ballpark figure,” I said.
“We can’t use the snapdragons, and we’ll be adding some color...”
Mr. Becker looked at me as if he had a question. He put his cap back on.
“How much will it cost,” he repeated.
Inside the house my microwave beeped. It sounded like laughter.
“It’ll cost more to turn the dirt,” he said. “Those snapdragons won’t survive the winter.”
“Really?” I asked. “I was just wondering if the snapdragons would survive the winter.”
“No, see, because they are seasonal...”
Poor guy didn’t even realize I was teasing.
Perhaps it is time for an extra holiday to reimburse the non-mumbling population. We’ll call it Brain Gap Day. All the Mr. Beckers can go about their business slow as they please, and the rest of us can unwind in the sunshine. Come on, they won’t even realize we’ve taken the day off!And for the bitty Buddha on my shoulder … I ate him.