In the middle of a manic Monday I met Mr. Becker, the landscape guy. He arrived
at my house while I was cooking lunch and caught me grumpy-hungry. He came to
give me an estimate on my flower bed. I wanted to add color to the yard to neutralize
my naturally recurring suicidal tendencies. I was prepared to spend money on
the project, but it ended up costing something far more precious: my time.
"We'll have to dig up the seasonal flowers before we can add the perennials."
"Fair enough," I said.
"Yup," he said, looking around. "We'll have to dig 'em up."
There was an awkward silence followed by an awkward silence. I waited for
Mr. Becker to say something meaningful, to kick the conversation in the butt,
but he just kept nodding his head. I wanted to pinch him very hard.
Mr. Becker is a human speed bump, a man who prevents us from making headway
on any given day. Speed bumps are not always gardeners. They can be movers,
designers, politicians. I once had a doctor who kept me 45 minutes to explain
his views on dehydration. So it goes.
"The snapdragons," said Mr. Becker, "are seasonal flowers,
so they won't live through the winter."
"Which is why you'll have to dig them up."
"We'll have to dig 'em up."
Mr. Becker kicked a rock and exhaled deeply. It was his "thinking breath." It
seemed that I was his only appointment today. I, on the other hand, could
hear my to-do list laughing at the window.
At this point, a little Buddha appeared on my shoulder. Jasonsan, everyone
you meet has something to teach you. Be quiet and find out what it is.
I looked at Mr. Becker ... quietly. He was still eyeing that rock.
"Snapdragons," he mumbled.
My stomach growled. The bitty Buddha urged me to be strong. Here is an opportunity
to release your self-importance and surrender to the moment.
"How much will the flowers cost?" I asked.
Mr. Becker removed his cap and ran his fingers through his hair. A weighty
question indeed. He would need some time to answer a question like that.
All day perhaps.
"Ballpark figure," I said.
"We can't use the snapdragons, and we'll be adding some color..."
Mr. Becker looked at me as if he had a question.
How much will it cost," he repeated, putting his cap back on.
Inside my house, the microwave beeped. My microwave that could roast a turkey
in half the time it took this man to form a sentence.
"It'll cost more to turn the dirt. They won't survive the winter, those
"Really?" I asked. "I was just wondering if the snapdragons
would survive the winter."
"No, see, because they are seasonal..."
The poor guy didn't even know I was teasing him.
I tried to find the lesson that Mr. Becker had to impart. I had nearly invented
something when a voice inside cried, No! This man belongs to an abusive legion
of lead-footed wishy-washers impeding the evolution of human consciousness.
We find them at every turn, falling in our path and making sure that our
day does not go smoothly.
It is time that the clear-headed, non-mumbling population be awarded an
extra day off to reimburse us for the time we spend on these people. It will
be called Brain Gap Day. All the Mr. Beckers can go about their business
sluggish as they please while the rest of us unwind over a beer in the sun.
The nice part is that they probably won't even realize we've taken the day
As for the bitty Buddha on my shoulder ... I ate him.