Thursday, June 07, 2007

Tree Service

Earlier this week the remnants of some named-tropical-depression (Barry, I think) came through the area and brought some funky, humid air, lots of rain and some moderate winds.* Moderate though they seemed, the winds, took down a large chunk of a tree in my neighbor's yard. The felled-section landed on his house. It didn't seem to do much damage but the tree whole needed to be removed. This morning, a tree crew showed up and began cutting.

Twenty years ago (wow!), as a callow youth, my first job was working on a tree crew. My Mother's, first cousin's in-laws (if that's not a Boston-familial connection chain . . . ) owned a tree company in the Boston area. I remember being too young to work, but people telling me that when I turned 16 I'd go work for that crew -- and so I did.

It was hot, dirty, dangerous, hard work. It brought me in touch with some unsavory types (gun charges, manslaughter charges) and afforded me the opportunity to drive trucks (when legal), use chainsaws, chippers, stumpers and bring my lunch to work in a cooler. One summer I got hit in the head and got 30 stitches. I was tanned. I was strong. My hands were hard and my arms were covered in scratches. I earned $8/hr, $12/hr for overtime. Basically it was the best job that any 16 year old could ever ask for.

It also taught me the value of a buck, how hard it is to earn a living and what it means to work. Some days, like this morning, I miss that job even though it would be unrealistic for me, at this point in my life, to go and do that work. But it was honest labor, with tangible results that got me outside, kept me active and put cash in my pocket. Working in advertising, you play a big game, all the time -- jacking your salary by moving from job to job producing disposable paper and electronic deliverables. It has its moments, it can be hard in terms of stress, and it can be fun, sometimes, but it's a service based industry with few tangible results.

Of course, when we are successful our clients move units, post profits, see their stock go up, spend more money with us, we profit etc. etc. but it's all, on many levels, theoretical. I take pride in successfully executed campaigns that move the needle; but, I guarantee that I'll remember the day we took down about 360 feet of White Oaks (6 trees on a piece of property -- and the only day I ever felt bad about how I earned my money because the trees were healthy and beautiful) longer than I'll ever remember some campaign selling servers. Am I glorifying my teenage work experience? Of course I am, but it has stood me in good stead, and taught me some of the most important lessons of my life.

*How we can have a named storm already, prior to Hurricane Season, is beyond me. I think it's the result of people with an axe to grind over global warming who start naming every moderately strong tropical system that blooms anywhere near hurricane season, but that's a post for another time.

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