A dead-tree update.

In a recent post, “The true and simple rules for house-sitting,” I wrote about how startled I was to come home to a nearly dead potted tree in my living room.

There’s more.


Last night No. 2* house-sitter showed up to retrieve the moribund ficus and a couple of other smaller, non-organic items she’d left behind. The tree and its container were a bit unwieldy so I offered to let her use the hand truck I’d lent to others in the building. It would, in fact, be the second time she’d used it: When I got back from my trip it was sitting in the entryway rather than tucked back into the coat closet where it belonged.

The remaining leaves began falling as she wheeled the plant out the door. “Oh, I’m making a mess,” she remarked.

She did not pick up the leaves.

In fact, she asked if she could “trouble me” for help with the used car she’d just bought. It had been a while since she’d owned a vehicle and the temperature gauge kept coming on.

“Add water,” I suggested. But even as I said it I could feel that $!#@ mom-gene kicking in.

“I’m not sure where it goes,” she said.

The mom-gene engaged fully (I could practically hear Capt. Picard saying, “Make it so, you doormat”) and a few minutes later I was outside, in the drizzle, with my giant Eveready flashlight and a bottle of water. At least her hands got as dirty as mine trying to get the hood open. I let her pour the water herself.

But now she’s gone, and won’t be back, and I resisted the impulse to say, “You know what helps when the temperature gauge comes on? Sugar. About half a cup in the gas tank. It cools down the internal combustion system.”

Not only would that have been unkind, she probably would have asked to come in and use my computer until the tow truck arrived. At least then I could have made her pick up the leaves.

*The “No. 2” refers to the order of employment, i.e., she was the second one in the past few months. It is not a comment on the quality of her work. However warranted such a comment might be.

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  1. Mollymouser

    Whew. I was afraid #2 had something to do with what usually occurs in the restroom. Now THAT would’ve been unpleasantly memorable. (grin) I suppose you could gather up those leaves and mail them to her? Naaaahhhhh. At the very least, you should’ve said, as your parting shot, “Make like this tree and leave!”

    bwahahahahahahaha! (OK, reading your blog late at night may be too much of a good thing!)

  2. I love houseplants, and had several in my house. But when I moved to an apartment I gave them all away. I now have a small pot of aloe and three pots of ivy that will be just fine even if I’m away for a week. (Which I never would be because of the cat, but that’s another story.) a few months ago a grateful patron gave me potted plant with huge palm-like leaves, that occasionally puts out a big scary white thing that’s not quite a flower. Instead of pollen it has spores. The next time I move, the plant will not be coming with me.

    • Donna Freedman

      @Sharon: Is that a peace lily, maybe? Look it up online and see. There was a peace lily in sports department at the Anchorage Daily News. Despite low light levels and neglect, it would not die. I saw people emptying coffee dregs into its soil, even. So if yours starts to droop, buy it some java.

  3. “You know what helps when the temperature gauge comes on? Sugar. About half a cup in the gas tank. It cools down the internal combustion system.”-Very naughty but VERY funny. Thinking such horrible thoughts does help deal with an idiot though! And just an FYI, if you had said sugar, she would have wanted you to give her some.

  4. Oh dear, poor clueless house-sitter #2. How sweet of you to help her and overcome your evil impulse! But like you said, now she’s gone and won’t be back.

    I hope the “live large” hint means chocolate? Eating chocolate can make one large, right??

  5. You should have hidden the other non-organic items around your place and made her go on a “scavenger hunt” to find them. Would have been poetic justice for the misplaced hand truck and other “wandering” items…

  6. @Sharon — if it IS a peace lily, you’d best give it to someone else sooner than later — they’re toxic to cats. Mine nibbled the leaf tip and ended up in the vet emergency room on fluids (irritated his mouth and throat to the point that he quit eating and drinking).

    Wonderful blog, Donna! Sorry to horn-in on your dime to talk to someone else….

  7. Yipe! I have two peace lilies in the house…had no idea the things were toxic. Fortunately, the dog isn’t giving to chewing the houseplants.

    Heh heh heh heh heh…love the whole Sugar Helpful Hint idea. Good, very very good.

    What barn was the poor woman raised in? It sounds like she’s hopelessly obtuse.

  8. LOL Mom-genes and sugared gas. At least with her last few items cleared she is well and truly gone.

  9. Kristina

    I do a lot of house sitting, for pay and “vacations” from my tiny apartment. I always leave the house cleaner than it was found, including laundry, at least in the dryer if not back on the bed (which depends upon how much time I have to get to work in the morning for my regular job.) There is no reason why they should have to clean up after me.

    Sorry for the experience you had with the hose sitters.

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