Monday, May 11, 2009

Love So We Can Stop Repeating

"That's a nice looking rain barrel ya got there," he says from his side of the fence. Our neighbor, laying out a garden and looking befuddled, is the local Green Living Poobah here at the unnamed university. He's also really young and somehow looks different each time I see him. If he weren't wandering around the property adjacent to Pete's wearing t-shirts I'd seen before, I couldn't pick him out of a lineup. Let's call him Davey because I wouldn't be surprised to see him ignoring the advice of a Claymation talking dog.

Tata: Yeah yeah yeah. Remember you told Pete you bought your rain barrels at Lowe's? The one in East Brunswick said Lowe's didn't sell them. I threw a giant hissyfit.
Davey: You what?
Tata: All I have to hear is the word no -
Seriously, last weekend, I stood at the customer service counter the Lowe's on Route 18 in East Brunswick, NJ and explained to five different employees, with various titles on their Hi, I'm ____ name tags, that I would like to be able to walk into their embarrassingly huge garden section and walk out with rain barrels. I need at least four of them, I explained, and to have them shipped to my house would cost as much as a fifth rain barrel. I would prefer, I repeated and repeated, to pay Lowe's for rain barrels and leave. Not one of them saw there might be some profit to Lowe's to carry the very specific thing a customer was asking to buy four of. No, really.

Manager: At corporate, they don't think it's a good idea to carry something we might sell only once a year.
Tata: Water is expensive. This is a good guard against drought, and you have a lot of small farms around here.
Manager: Maybe you could try our website.
Tata: Did you not hear me explain about the shipping charges? I want to be able to come here, pick out the kind I want, pay you and leave. I want to be able to look at them and see them before they are at my house.
Manager: Some things are just decided at corporate.
Tata: Well, they decided wrongly.

Pete: Lowe's said they didn't sell rain barrels. Today, we were in the Piscataway store.
Tata: I got all frustrated. They had a whole aisle full of decorative lawn shit nobody needs but we couldn't find rain barrels. I gave up and stuck to the swearing because I'm really good at it but Pete's patient. He found them stuck in a dusty corner of shame.
Pete: We couldn't get it into the car but I could tell by the look on her face that thing was coming home with us if she had to hold it out the window.
Tata: If I had to run alongside the car, that was coming to our house.
Davey: How'd you get it home?
Pete: A bungee cord and string. The trunk wide open. We violated local traffic ordinances in two towns. How do you like yours?
Davey: I have to raise it up. Gravity's all wrong for watering the garden.
Pete: Want some cinder blocks? There're some behind your garage from a wall that fell down.
Tata: You "found" cinder blocks?
Pete: No, I found cinder blocks.

The space between Pete's garage and Davey's may be about four feet deep and ten feet long. From this space, I have seen Pete produce glass building blocks, 36" planters, fencing material, whole logs and used tires. I'm fully expecting the DIY version of rabbits and a lovely assistant, but cinder blocks are funny, too. It's kind of a miracle Davey speaks to us. His wife always takes one horrified look and crabwalks back to her kitchen, perhaps because in a stiff wind like yesterday's my coif resembles Grandmama Addams'. Pete produces two cinder blocks, Davey's rain barrel gets a gravity-assist from blocks that could have come from - for all I know - the Planet of Lost Socks and Bic Pens.

It was a very good day for recycling.



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