Sunday, November 8, 2009

Milestones: Get a Rake

I know I keep saying how much I love autumn.

Raking leaves? Not so much.

Flashback - yes, yes, I know I said last year I didn't mind raking the leaves, but we had just moved back from Hawaii so it was a novelty.

This is just one of those cases in life where you've gotta take the good with the bad. Good = Beautiful red, orange, and yellow leaves on trees, pumpkins, that slight chill in the air that nips at your cheeks, and a nice cup of hot apple cider. Bad = Heaps of dead brown leaves a foot deep across every square inch of yard you own and won't just go away no matter how hard you ignore them.

I've been looking forward to the day when the boys would be old enough to start picking up some of chores around the house. First, I was surprised in the spring when 8 year old ES offered to mow the lawn for 50 cents.

Just yesterday, ES and his neighborhood friend P offered to rake the leaves in our yard for a dollar. They drive a hard bargain don't they? Actually, the conversation with ES was something more like this:

Excited ES: "Mommy, Mommy! P said I could have 30 cents if I help him rake the leaves in the yard!"

LW: "What's P getting out of this deal?"

ES: "P said he's charging people a dollar to rake their leaves."

ES's grandma says P is a modern-day Eddie Haskell.

Anyway, we agreed to pay their outrageous price of $1 for them to rake the leaves. Much to my surprise, they didn't do a half-bad job.

ES raking leaves.

Unfortunately, I didn't read the fine print on the contract. Oh wait... there was no contract. It was a purely verbal agreement, and apparently there was something lost in translation. Just in case any of you readers find yourselves being extorted by 8 year-olds, here's a translation guide for you.

When they say: "Will you pay us $1 to rake your leaves?"

They actually mean: "Will you pay us $1 to rake the leaves just in this 20 foot by 20 foot patch of the front yard before we go to the next-door neighbor's house and get them to pay us $1 to rake only one-sixteenth of the total yard area of their yard and then move on to the next house and so on and so forth?"

When ES came in to tell me he was "done" and asked for his $1, I went outside to inspect their work.

Me: "What about the sides of the house?"

P: "We don't do sideyards."

Me: "What about the back yard?"

P: "We don't do backyards. Front yards only."

Me: "What about the front yard portion on the OTHER side of the driveway over there?"

P: "No, we don't do those either."

For a minute there, I thought maybe in his quest to read every book in our house, ES read the chapter of my social psychology textbook on sales tactics and low-balling. They got me to agree to the lowball offer of $1 to start the job, and now they need more money to finish the job. So I offered to pay them another dollar if they raked the back yard, too, but they were already packing up their gear and moving on to the neighbor's house.

Oh well. Chalk this one up to you-get-what-you-pay-for.

1 comment:

Hilary said...

When my older son was around that age, he'd grab rakes, shovels or brooms (depending on the season) and start clearing not only various neighbours' lawns or driveways but sometimes even the street itself. Never did he clear ours. Others' were more fun. I was lucky if the equipment ever made its way back into the garage. I often had to go searching for half-buried shoves in snow or rakes under leaves.