October 26, 2006

Silly me – I was always taught that trees and bushes added value to your property. Evidently, that’s NOT the case out here in Gilbert, Arizona, where the neighbors on two sides of our property have complained about: a) the mesquite tree that drops little mesquite tree leaves into their swimming pool, and b) the lemon tree that has had the nerve to extend some of its branches over our dividing wall by a good foot or so.

I’ll admit it – I’m perplexed by these nonsensical, nattering nay-bobs of neighborly negativity. You see, I’ve seen the yards of these neighbors: the people complaining about the mesquite tree have zero – ZERO – landscaping in their teenie-weenie back yard that contains their in-ground pool and nothing else – just a swimming pool, some stone-covered ground, and a bare cement wall (very attractive!), and the guy complaining about the lemon tree uses that side of his yard for storing his trash and recycleable barrels. I’m thinking, you should be pleased to have Mother Nature intrude on your yard areas that could stand a little sprucing up. But no – the word is out: constrain those dreaded wandering trees and bushes, or we’ll do the trimming ourselves!

Want to know how business is done out here in the borderlands of the southwestern U.S.? I call a local tree company that advertises on the radio. The lady at Andy’s Tree Service is very nice, but she informs me that any visit would cost a minimum of $500, and, since all I have is a single tree problem, she suggests I do some shopping around, “if you know what I mean.”

Mmmmm. I love code-speak. “If you know what I mean.” Out here, “shopping around” means, take the underground economy route.

I talk to Carmelo, our landscaper who comes by once a week. I ask him to take care of the offending lemon tree limbs, which he says he’ll gladly do, and then ask him about the mesquite tree. “Sure, I know a couple of guys who can do the work”, he says, “I’ll ask them to come by over the weekend.”

Fast-forward to Sunday morning, 8:30 AM. The doorbell rings, and I stumble out of bed, throw on some clothes, and answer the door. Eduardo and Luis tell me they’re here to look at the tree. I show them the tree and Eduardo says it’s about an hour, hour and a half’s worth of work. He asks me, “How much?”

I scratch my head and the stubble of my beard. “Ummm…how about $150?”

Eduardo and Luis look at each other and a pained look of expression crosses their faces.

“OK, how about $200?”, I ask.

“Cash?”, says Eduardo.

“Cash”, I reply.

“OK”, Eduardo says, “we’ll do it.”

“Great”, I reply, “what day would you like to come by?”

“We’ll do it right now”, says Eduardo, as Luis has already headed for their truck to get the necessary equipment.

Which they did, climbing up in the tree and along the walls, clipping and cutting as efficiently and effectively as a Marine Corps barber on the first day of boot camp. An hour and fifteen minutes later, the tree has a lovely trim, the yard has been impeccably swept, and Eduardo and Luis enjoy my offer of cold soft drink as I fork over the $200. I ask them if they have a business card, and they just laugh, thanking me for the work as they head back to their truck.

You can complain all you want about border enforcement and illegal aliens, and the pressures our open borders put on various corners of our economy, but down here this is the way work gets done, and, coming from a place like New England where all people and politics is local and kinda provincial, it is an amazing thing to behold, indeed. When they say America is, more than anything else, a land of opportunity, they ain’t just whistling Dixie.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:23 | Comments (3)
  1. Andy’s Tree Service must make their living on government contracts. There are legitimate reasons why traditional business charges more than the underground economy. They pay for unemployment insurance, liability insurance, business interruption insurance, advertising, payroll taxes, income taxes, etc. None of this is your problem, though, unless Luis falls out of your tree with his chainsaw. Our company was required by our insurance company to hire a traditional contractor to do our rebuilding in New Orleans. The people they sub-contracted to? Looked and sound a lot like Eduardo and Luis. The work got done fairly rapidly the only way it was going to get done fairly rapidly. To those who advocate closed borders or the more politically charged “secure” borders, I say be careful what you ask for.

    Comment by Rob — October 26, 2006 @ 4:07 am

  2. Couldn’t have said it better myself. None of this really bothers me – in an economy that is booming like it is in the U.S., there’s a ton of disposable income and enough work for everyone. Eduardo and Luis spend their money here in AZ the same places most people do – at the gas stations, convenience stores, and Walmart. And, ya gotta eat. So I feel no guilt here – I’m helping keep the the service-sector economy alive for everyone. It’s the old M1 theory from Remember M1 from Economics 101.

    Thanks, Rob. Knowing the number of “outside” (and I mean REALLY outside) contractors working across post-Katrina New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, you see this kind of thing everyday and can better appreciate what I’m talking about.

    Now, about those DE-troit Tigers….

    Comment by The Great White Shank — October 26, 2006 @ 12:00 pm

  3. Here’s an idea!

    Use them for the work you need, them turn them in to INS for deportation!

    You get the work you need done, and you help control immigration after that.

    Comment by Dave Richard — October 27, 2006 @ 4:17 am

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