Planting a Tree, Despite that Jerk in the Parking Lot

By March 11, 2011 My Garden 7 Comments

I so very nearly had a good day.

After another morning of unrelentingly bleak news, armed with PMS and temporarily out of manure to haul, I decided to do something constructive. I would plant a tree!

Specifically I would plant a sourwood. Lovely trees, sourwoods. Sourwood honey is a beautiful thing, and I look forward to it every year. I have a perfectly good spot for a sourwood in the back, where we could definitely use some understory trees. So I hied myself to Niche Gardens, turned off the radio and put on the Pogues, and felt…oh, marginally better about life.

They were out of sourwood. One of the staff went off on a quest, found only unrooted cuttings, apologized, and then another staffer (actually I think the owner) emerged from the back triumphantly waving the last sourwood sapling in the place, and there was much rejoicing. I love the staff at Niche. Most of them are very nice–one was a trifle abrupt at first, but has warmed up to me considerably. We talked enthusiastically about spring being sprung enough for planting, particularly since we just had a massive ground-softening rain, making it a damn good time to get those saplings in.

I was in a good mood. Really, I was.

So on the way back home, I swung by Lowes to get a coupla more bags of compost (because the news won’t get any better, god knows) and some mulch for my newly acquired tree. Trees. (Okay, fine, possibly some buckeyes also came home with me. IT HAPPENS.)

An employee planted squarely in the little-old-lady archetype came up to me to ask if I needed anything, and I explained I needed dirt, and I swear to god, O readership, I expected her to say “Okay, let me get somebody.” They employ young men with shoulders like draft horses for just this reason, and make frequent use of them.

Instead she got a cart and started loading up bags of mulch herself.

Well. Okay then.

I found myself at this point ‘twixt the horns of a dilemma as they say. On the one hand, I once worked in a job where there was some mild lugging involved, and had at least one customer who always used to insist I “get a man” if I lifted anything over five pounds.  (If memory does not fail me, she once told a co-worker this, adding that she would “strain her lady bits.”)  This is obnoxious behavior. If I said I could do it, let me freakin’ do it already.* Also, while there may be a graceful way to say “Pardon, but you appear far too old and frail to move my dirt,”  I have no notion of what it may be and would fully expect and deserve to be punched in the midriff were I utter such.

On t’other hand, this woman was a head shorter and at least twenty years older, and…well…no.

Fortunately I was getting a fair amount, so compromise was at hand. I grabbed another cart and began loading the other (substantially heavier) half of my order on it, so then we both had a cart, we were both lugging, and I felt we had achieved an equitable arrangement between courtesy and gallantry.

Now, this would not be significant in any way—we all make such social negotiations a dozen times a day—but for what happened next.

I proceeded to check-out, pulled the car around, and we began loading it up. She took the side door and began loading through there, I took the back hatch and unloaded my cart in that way. I finished first, took my cart back, and headed back to the car, while she finished maneuvering the last bag ‘o mulch in the side.

At this moment, just after she’d finished and the words “Thank you so much for your help,” had left my mouth, a car pulled up, and a middle-aged man leaned out and said “You should be ashamed, a young thing standing around while she does that! There’s something wrong with this picture! You should be ashamed!”

And drove off, while I stood flabbergasted, in a cloud of exhaust and really clever rebuttals that I would think of Any Minute Now.

Said little old lady had already proved to be fairly deaf and was already moving the cart back inside, so I don’t know what she thought of the matter or if she even noticed.

Sigh. I never think of anything clever on the spot. I didn’t even think to flip him off. I am really no good in the face of unexpected hostility—I can’t even remember to honk my horn when cut off in traffic.

So, while I’m sure he doesn’t read this blog, let me just say for the record—screw you, nameless motorist, you had no damn idea what was going on.  I hope your life turns into a Nick Cave song.

Tomorrow I plant my tree anyway.


*Tangentially, one of the great hang-ups to emerge from my divorce and the subsequent half-dozen moves is a deep and burning desire to be able to move every essential thing I own by myself if needed. The day I upgraded to a flat-screen monitor was a great triumph. This has relaxed somewhat since moving in with Kevin, but if I had to move out, the only thing I’d need help shifting would be the couch and the giant metal chicken. It still comes up when arranging con-kits, as I flatly refuse to countenance any system which I myself cannot lift.

There are worse neuroses to have, I suppose…


  • rosenatti says:

    “I hope your life turns into a Nick Cave song.”

    Marry me.

  • Karla says:

    See, this is why you never, ever call people out like that. Cause you have no idea the circumstances, and could end up being extremely mean. Like, how was that guy to know that you didn’t have a severely injured back or something?

  • Katebat says:

    May a giant metal chicken fall on his car when he’s not looking.

  • Kathy says:

    I was really, really sick for most of my 20s – to the point that I was too weak to drive and could go to Lowe’s with my mom, walk around in a fog for about 10 minutes and then spend the next several days recovering. Except for being very pale, I looked healthy though. One day some guy in the parking lot gave me a hard time about sitting in the car while my mom loaded mulch. It really bothered my mom. I told him I had heart problems and he basically admitted he felt like an asshole. I didn’t argue.

  • kat says:

    “Strain your lady bits.” *snort*

    A few months ago my nurse-practitioner attempted to put me on a 25-pound weight limit in my first trimester. I said, “that isn’t happening,” and after a bit of me explaining my job (“throw these 20 5-gallon buckets full of liquid around, then we’ll do some real work”) she compromised and said I wasn’t to do any lifting that strained my abdominal muscles. That I could deal with.

    I was laughing about this at work, and one of my co-workers said, “oh, that’s nothing. I had a secretary at my old job tell me that women should never, ever lift anything over 25 pounds, or their uterus would split in half.”

    Er. Maybe this is some kind of southern urban legend?

    (Of course, now I’m in my third trimester and really, honestly not supposed to lift over 25 pounds, but that’s a whole different kettle of sulk.)

    Honestly, though — if the sight of an old lady loading a car bothered him so much, he could have, you know, offered to help himself. It does involve getting off your butt and doing something, but the sense of smug virtue afterwards is so much more deserved.

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