The Real JB

I woke up angry. See, I need to get a tree or two cut down on my property. I have a guy that does that kind of thing, JB Trees. His work is a thing of beauty. He shimmies up the tree with his chain saw and drops lengths of those trees onto a spot no larger than my bathroom floor.

So, on Saturday, I sat on my deck in the sun, looking up at the trees as I often do. It was lovely, except that one of the trees wasn’t right. It was leaning. Crap! It was leaning toward my garage! No, I’m sure that tree wasn’t leaning that much the last time I sat out on my deck with my tea.

It was a very tall tree. That’s something we have in abundance here in the Pacific Northwest, very tall trees. “I need to call my tree guy,” I told Mike.

“Why don’t you do it now?” he asked.

“On a Saturday? Isn’t that kind of mean?” I asked.

“No, if he’s busy, he won’t answer the phone,” he said. So, I sat there on my butt and searched for my tree guy on my iPhone. I saw his name there, the part about serving the Snoqualmie valley. Then, I pressed the button that said call.

“Jerry speaking,” a man answered.

“Is this JB Trees?” I asked.

“Yes?” he said and waited. Waiting can be such a devious thing. I especially don’t like when people leave silence between us. My mother used silence as a weapon. She still does. She got silent yesterday when I said I needed to get off the phone. I was volunteering at the school library and there was a child standing in front of me. I had told my mother that I might need to get off the phone at a moment’s notice.

“Hey Ma, I need to go.”

And there was silence while this small person looked up at me patiently.

“I really need to get off the phone now,” I said, feeling the burn begin at the bottom of my stomach, a little to the left of my belly button and a bit below my ribs. That is where my shame resides. Sometimes I wonder if that’s where it is for everyone or just for me.

“I’ll talk to you later,” I said and then, my mother went on talking as if I’d been rude and interrupted her story. I had interrupted her story, but I’d told her I might need to interrupt her story when I got onto the phone. I had told her I was working in the school library. It took five more minutes to actually hang up while that poor child stood there and stared at me. Damn!

So, when Jerry, on the other end of the phone with me, left that ‘yes?’ just hanging there, I filled it in. I actually started gabbing about how much I loved JB Trees, my tree guy. I talked about how the guy that came to my house last time could shimmy up those sad trees with his chain saw and drop them into a designated spot the size of my bathroom. We agreed on a time for Jerry to come look at the leaning tree.

Then, yesterday afternoon, I needed to change my appointment. My boy’s ride to swimming fell through. I blithely clicked my iPhone and found the number I had called. It still looked like JB Trees.

“Jerry speaking,” he said again.

“Is this JB Trees?” I asked with confidence.

“Yes?” he said. Honestly, I had no inkling that I was talking with any other company. I had searched JB Trees on my iPhone and I believed that I was talking to a man from JB Trees when I talked. Jerry didn’t disabuse me of my mistake. Oh, I wish he had. I even got to telling him how much I liked JB Trees again. He told me a story about how two guys were arguing over whose tree guy they would call and both of them turned out to be him. That story made me laugh then. It only fuels my anger now.

He came to my house yesterday, a bit later than we’d originally planned. I had taken my son to his swimming lesson and got back home before he arrived. When he got out of his shiny red truck, I shook his hand. The guy from JB Trees drove a beat up black truck and was quite a few years younger than this man. And he was a brunette. This guy Jerry had blonde hair, dyed blonde hair with a touch of gray left at the temples.

“Are you Jerry?” I asked. He nodded and smiled.

“Have you been here before?” I asked, hesitating for the first time. This was a different guy. Did they have more than one guy that came out to talk about the trees? I had thought that JB Trees mostly flew solo except occasionally when his wife answered the phone.

“No, I don’t think so,” he said and then he stopped talking. It was no wonder he had a little sparkle in his eye, that he seemed like he was about to start laughing. I had liked that about him at the time. I don’t like it so much now.

We walked around my yard and discussed the leaning tree along with a few others. I even introduced him to my husband who had just gotten home from work. Jerry worked fast, wrote up an estimate as we stood there and handed it to my husband. We all agreed that Jerry would send someone to cut the trees next week. He would call me to schedule it. And then, he hopped into his shiny red truck and left.

I chatted happily with my husband about how a sign on a fallen tree across a slide zone sometimes reminded me to call JB Trees when it was my turn to bring the kids home from swimming. That was before the tree was actually leaning.

“Did you get the phone number from that sign?” he asked me.

“No, I looked him up on the Internet.”

“Hon, this estimate isn’t from JB Trees,” he said. I popped out my phone and looked up JB Trees again. There it was, the same number I’d called twice before. There was no heading and ‘JB Trees’ sat under little button that said ‘call.’

I had been duped! These people intentionally didn’t put their own name at the top or I would have been alerted to my mistake. Jerry intentionally didn’t say anything but ‘yes?’ as if answering the phone when I asked if I had reached JB Trees! He let me babble on about my favorite tree guy and he knew I’d ‘accidentally’ called the wrong number! I felt like an idiot.

“Should I call JB Trees instead?” I asked my husband.

“No, it’s already on the books. Just let them come and do it,” he said mildly. He hadn’t heard my conversation with Jerry. He hadn’t heard me go on about how much I like JB Trees. I nodded my head and dropped Jerry’s estimate into my in box.

And then I woke up mad. I do that sometimes, get muddled by other people’s expectations and emotions and don’t realize my own feelings about a matter until I’ve slept on it.

The Internet had been set up to confuse me, but Jerry had let it go on and on, and on again, as I talked to him, twice on the phone and once in person. What a shit!

As soon as it’s a decent hour, I’m going to call my own tree guy at JB Trees and I’m going to ask him to come over to take a look at my leaning tree. I don’t even care if his estimate comes out higher than Jerry’s or if his schedule is booked for a couple of weeks. I don’t imagine either of those things happening, but I don’t care if it does. I’ll be looking for the guy in the beat up old truck to show up in my driveway.

Then, when Jerry calls I’ll tell him that he might have had a chance at doing the work if he’d just been honest with me at some point in the conversation, if he had just had some integrity.

Thank you for listening, jules


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