There’s an old man who lives in my neighborhood, right across the street. He and his wife are probably in their late 70s, early 80s, possibly late 80s. I’m not very good at judging ages on old people. But yeah, they’re old. He’s a cool old dude. He was a sailor back in his day, so I know he’s got some guns in that house. I’m trying to get on his good side so maybe he’ll put me in his will, because I like guns too.
Anyway, he has this tree in front of his house that is notorious for losing branches. I mean, they’re easily found – it’s like it loses one, we look for a brief period, and say, “Oh, there it is, right beneath the tree from where it fell. How about that.” So it’s not really losing them as such… maybe not even really misplacing them. We’ll just say that branches have a tendency to fall off that damn tree quite often. More than the rest of the trees in the neighborhood.
Well last summer, a big ass branch fell and landed – surprisingly – right in his yard. But it didn’t really fall all the way off. Which is one reason it was pretty easy to find. It sort of split and drooped to the ground, but a fat part of it was still connected at the top. So being that he’s in his early hundreds, or however old he is, and I’m still just a little shaver – relatively speaking – I decided I’d help. Well you know how it is. I like to be a good neighbor. I like to take care of my elders. And I also respect the fact that he served his country (even though he was just in the Navy). So I take care of my fellow veterans when I can. I went to help him drop the branch.
Now this branch was giant in girth. I mean, it was bigger around than my c– uh, well, let’s just say it was big around, okay? Well, to keep a long story about the same length, I climbed up into the tree with his electric chainsaw… I know, but hey, the cord actually ended up coming in handy because I was able to pull the saw up by the cord once I got into position. And this was pretty high too. Now I’m gonna go way out on a limb here and say that it was very likely higher than I’ve ever been in a tree. I’m just sayin. So I cut the branch off, then spent the next few hours cutting it up into small logs for him. Dude, I wasn’t going to stand there and watch some old gentleman trying to saw that shit up.
Well, a few days later, his lovely wife came over and gave me a gift card. It was like thirty bucks on a gift card to Applebee’s. All right! Hey, I can deal with that! A free meal for me! Well, I took my wife with me, but since she didn’t actually do any work and actually help earn the gift card, I didn’t get her anything. So my wife and kids sat there and watched me eat. But you know what? It wasn’t very good. I don’t really like Applebee’s. It’s kind of like the Walmart of restaurants if you ask me. Sort of like TGIFridays. Well at least at Fridays you can get cold beers and have a good time. But that’s another story.
So anyway, now that we’re in the ‘make a short story long’ mode already, let me skip forward to a couple of weeks ago. Another damn branch fell off this dude’s tree. And this time it came all the way off, and landed on Jimmy’s car. I don’t know why Jimmy was parked across the street, but whatever – the branch fell on his car and dented up the hood real good. So Stout and I went outside and helped the old dude drag the branch up into his yard. I told old dude, “Hey, so I’ll come out in the morning and help you saw this puppy up.” Just like last year. And sure as shit, the next morning around oh seven hundred, he was out there with his clips, trimming the twigs and stuff off the big branches. And he had his chainsaw sitting out there, ready and plugged in.
Poor old dude, you could just tell that he would do it if he absolutely had to, but was really hoping I’d really show up like I said I would. I could see the relief in his smile as I walked up and put on my tree gloves. Well, this year was a lot easier, since I didn’t have to climb the tree. So I sawed the big branch up into little logs and tossed them in his woodpile for him. Cool. Anyway, the point of this story is that little old sweet lady wife of his comes by a few days later and raps on my chamber door. She said, “Thank you so much, we got you a little something, and it’s not much but it will get you started and thank you, and…” you know, the usual. And she hands me a little card folded up. I thanked her and closed the door.
As I turned into the house and opened the card, I saw instantly that it was another Applebee’s card – this time worth 25 dollars. Five dollars less than last time. Yeah. Seriously. And this time I’d had enough. So I swung the door back open and caught the old lady about halfway down the sidewalk, and said, “Seriously? I mean I get that I didn’t work as hard this year, so 25 is cool, but could you not at least get me a freakin Chili’s card?”