I should’ve paid more attention and asked a few questions this morning, when my wife told me she’d hired a couple of guys to install pine straw. Instead, absorbed in the NFL pregame show, I only half-listened as she repeated the men’s assurances that the application of a thick coat now, at only $4 per bale, will last a full year before further touch ups prove necessary. I also wish I’d done more than grunt when Sophia pronounced herself satisfied with the nearly-completed project before leaving the house two hours later.
If I have any excuse for my lackadaisical approach, it stems from prior experience. This isn’t our first pine straw rodeo. I’ve spent the past ten years paying guys to spread the product, both at our prior home and here. On those occasions, 15 – 20 bales were usually installed and I never paid more than $160, even when the charge was $6 or $7 a bale!
Imagine my surprise when the bell rang and the entrepreneur said he’d installed 225 bales of pine straw! Though I nearly swallowed my tongue, I numbly wrote out the check for $900 and thanked him for the work.
My brain belatedly unfroze as I watched the truck pull away. The flatbed still looked chock full of product. While I’m no math genius, even I know 225 bales of pine straw take up a fair amount of space. So, unless there was an empty, invisible truck on our cul de sac, the laws of mass and volume suggested a major inflation of the bale tally.
The subject of counting itself raised an additional warning flag. When I’d asked the guy how much I owed him, he’d merely answered: “We put down 225 bales at $4 a bale.” He clearly expected me to do the math for the grand total. Watching the truck drive off, I couldn’t help but wonder whether a man apparently unable to multiply could even count to 225.
Nonetheless, despite the mathematical issues, I couldn’t deny the veritable shitload of pine straw I found blanketing every square foot around our house and property lines. I can’t see Prometheus surmounting these new barriers between him and the bushes he loves to piss on. Hell, I’ll bet the pine straw will prevent the dog’s incursions better than the Great Wall of China did versus barbarian invasions.
Sophia seemed equally shocked at the total cost of our project. I learned why when I asked her by how much the guy had exceeded his estimate. Staring at her feet, she sheepishly replied: “I didn’t ask him for an estimate.”
I now feel like the guy who gets “roofied” at a party and wakes up with his pants at his ankles, ass on fire, amidst a sprawl of naked bodies and a pool cue. He’s pretty sure he’s been raped. The only questions are: how many times, and with what?