Monday, July 04, 2005

Competitive Lawnmowing

So, I'd just finished mowing my lawn (a chore that I don't love, but find better than cleaning the kitchen), and I was pulling some weeds next to the ugly bushes in front of my house when out of the corner of my eye I saw a white van pull out in to the street from across the street. I thought nothing of it because the death rockers across the street have several vans, and I think I've seen a white van there before. Additionally, the house next to the death rockers has recently become occupied after a long vacancy. I haven't met the new neighbors so it was conceivable that the white van belongs to them.

I go back to pulling weeds but I am scared out of my skin by a loud honking right behind me. I turn around to see the white van parked half way in my driveway, halfway on my lawn. I walk up to the van. Its driver is an old man, he speaks to me in a thick accent (perhaps from some West African country--it sounded vaguely French like). He says, "I just wanted you to know you have done a good job mowing your lawn. A very good job. At first I thought you were a man. When I realized you were a woman, I had to come over to tell you what a good job you had done mowing your lawn."

I thanked him and went back to pulling weeds. He pulled out of my driveway and drove away.

There are so many things wrong with that interaction I don't even know where to start. First, what is it with van owners that they have no compunction over driving on peoples' lawns? They all do it, it must be a van cultural thing.

When I had short hair I used to be mistaken for a man all the time. That hasn't happened since I grew my hair out. But, here it seems like the very fact I was mowing a lawn is what caused the confusion. Now, I know the guy is old, and he seemed to be from a different country, but what are you supposed to say to something like that, and how is it supposed to make you feel?

It's bad enough to know that neighbors actually do judge your lawn. I mean, my next door neighbors have a beautiful flower garden--just looking at it lowers your blood pressure. My lawn is mostly weeds--it is the best I can do to mow it before they all go to seed. So, I'm a little sensitive to being judged by the neighbors.

But, not only that, there seems to be multiple levels for which to be judged. I guess there is professional lawn mowing and amateur lawnmowing. But not only that, there seems to be male and female divisions as well.

Maybe I should have just told him that since I had been mowing the lawn for almost 25 years, I was able to compete at a high level.

But, seriously, if this guy is the new guy across the street, what is he going to do when he finds out I live in this house all by myself. Not only that, I own it all by myself. He may blow a gasket.

Better to just keep the windows closed and get Pretzel to come over and do my yard work.

6 Comments:

Blogger jkf said...

HAHAHAHA. men. Every time I try to check my oil, some guy comes over with the "hey little lady, need some help with that." Funny the assumptions about abilities people assume. Pisses me off every time. As for the van thing, I think it is like you state, they just have no idea how big their vehicle is - they aren't used to big things.

2:58 PM  
Blogger great sandwich! said...

that's why i was kind of happy when the death rockers just started parking the blue van in the very center of their front lawn. now they've got one in the back yard, one in the driveway, and one in the front yard.

4:50 PM  
Blogger Meg said...

I think maybe he was just trying to be nice. If he is your new neighbor, he was probably just trying to take advantage of the opportunity to meet his new neighbor; saw you out there mowing the lawn and decided to start the conversation by giving you a compliment; then realized you were female and was surprised and let the3 fact that he was surprised slip out amidst his compliment. At least he didn't introduce himself by waving a broken bottle in your face.

Some people are just awkward.

As for the driving all over your yard with his van and honking, I can't explain that. I used to drive a van but I didn't act that way. Then again, I wasn't an old man.

2:05 PM  
Blogger great sandwich! said...

I don't buy it, meg. He specifically came over to tell me I had a done a good job because I am a woman.

Even if things did go down as you suggest, I don't think we should justify or even excuse sexism--even if it was inadvertant.

5:04 PM  
Blogger Meg said...

You're right, of course - I didn't mean to suggest otherwise. As a practical matter, I find myself needing to tune a lot of sexism out or else I'd go on a shooting spree. It's a "pick your battles" thing: I do it out of pragmatism, not because I want to. To me, inadvertent sexism seems like a bad battle to pick when there is so much open hostility toward women in the world. My statement was meant more as a description of how I would have dealt with it, and I should have phrased it accordingly, but I didn't. Sorry.

On the other hand, I'll admit that it would be unwise to ignore the impact that the little battles have on the war, so to speak.

I didn't mean to suggest that it shouldn't make you or anyone mad, or that you have a responsibility to shrug off someone else's offensive behavior.

Let's egg his house. And then, mow his lawn real nice.

9:42 PM  
Blogger great sandwich! said...

as far as picking your battles goes, believe me i know all about it. that's why i am a cheerful person most of the time instead of a seething hater.

for the record, the only thing i said to him was "thank you."

but that doesn't mean i don't reserve the right to bitch and moan behind his back!

i don't think he's a neighbor. i think he might be the death rocker's landlord.

2:39 PM  

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