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.
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.