Anything I write that has to do with writing will be in From Pico's Pen, my author's blog. Everything that doesn't fit any of the sites I write on will be here. This is my practice. I could have kept it private and farmed out the good stuff but I found my readers like too much of it to do that. It isn't a diary because there are things I keep to myself but you can learn a great deal about me from the randomness you will find here.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Landscaping Switcheroo

Guava courtesy Pixabay

The college I attended was well known for its beautifully landscaped grounds. In fact they had been awarded the most beautifully maintained campus in America award several times. Understandably this was a point of significant pride. A lot of the important folks working for the college had at one time been students paying their way by working on the landscaping crew just like I was doing. This could lead to some interesting problems.

Across the freeway by the grade school affiliated with the college was where I worked and we had a serious safety concern. Right on the corner of two busy streets a walkway led from the school to the crosswalk on the corner. Alongside that walkway was a large ivy bed with guava trees growing in the middle. The guava trees would hide any pedestrians from traffic until they were steps from the crosswalk. We tried cutting them back but guavas grow very fast and these were well established. It was a serious safety issue, so we requested permission to remove them. The request was denied without explanation. We tried several times and communicated with our department head and it still kept getting denied. The whole department knew the issue needed to be addressed and no one really understood why we couldn't get permission to solve it.

The story finally came out. The person in charge of running the physical campus was personally denying the request. The reason was that he had worked in the department as a student and these guava trees were amoung the last if not the last remaining trees he had planted himself. I understand where he was coming from and have respect for the man. That doesn't address the safety issue though. We set about getting the job done without his approval.

The decision was taken by the head of the department but as one of those calling for removal of the bushes and my subsequent participation in the dirty deed, I can't just wash my hands and say I was just following orders. The planter of the trees would be away for a long weekend. Norm was called in. Norm was a special kind of landscaper. If you wanted a job done fast and didn't care what it looked like when it was done, you called Norm. He came in with a tractor and had the whole row out within an hour. That's when they called me.

My strength as a landscaper wasn't brute force. I'm more of a landscaping cosmetician. First thing I did was plant low growing tobiras where the guava had been. Then I spent most of the rest of the day repairing the torn up ivy, concealing the tractor tire marks and any other evidence of our mission. My cover up work was adequate because the whole thing was never spoken of again and now the kids could safely approach the intersection without the previous level of risk.

I'd love to sit down and chat with the poor man we perpetrated this on. I'd still do the same thing but I understand him. Since graduating, this college has closed its door and much of the work I did there has been bulldozed.