Thursday, November 12, 2009

Call Me... John

Don't call me John.
It's not my name.
I know that on this blog I've not used my real name, but rest assured that it is not Maranta... nor is it John.
Only one person is allowed to call me John and that is because he thinks it is my name and has been using it for some time now. It's my own fault really.

I am not generally on a first name basis with my clients, that is, I know their names but they do not know mine; most would not even recognize me if I showed up on their doorstep in full gardening attire. To these people I am not a gardener, I am the gardening fairy. Sometime when the leaves begin to pile up, or the perennials are full of dead-heads, they rest a finger idly upon their chin and think: 'Hmm, now that's not right, something usually happens to prevent all this clutter. It'd sure be nice if that something happened again.' And they go about performing various superstitious dances, chants, prayers, and sacrifices to the gardening pantheon in hopes of incurring some sort of miraculous garden cleanup event. And then, while they're gone at work someday, the leaves disappear, the weeds disappear, and all is right again. Little do they know there is a man behind this phenomenon, that he is not currently a member of any pantheon (though he is accepting invitations), and that there is a direct link between the bill they receive in the mail every month, its being paid, and how likely he is to sneak in and answer their prayers while they are away.
Not a high profile gig, in other words. I don't spend too long planning my outfit in the morning or talking to my P.R. person. In the event that I am accidentally seen or stumbled upon by a client, there inevitably follows a myth-shattering and awkward disenchantment (think kids catching Mommy or Daddy putting presents under the Christmas tree instead of Santa), heightened by a decided lack of casual conversational skills on the part of yours truly. I have tried just freezing on the spot when seen, to promote the fable that gardeners turn to stone when seen by mortals, but for some reason this seems to creep people out rather than to re-enchant them. Also, just turning around and sprinting out of sight doesn't work either; apparently gardeners and thieves share a common mystique when fleeing.
So I'm fine with keeping a low-profile most of the time. There are, however, a small handful of clients who insist on being friendly, appreciative people; these will occasionally go so far as to openly acknowledge my existence and look me in the eye. To date, two of these have bothered to learn my name; one has successfully ascertained my true identity and one calls me 'John'.
This is because, one dull morning while I was more or less zoned out working in a sidewalk bed, I suddenly heard a loud, friendly "How's it going, John!?" directed right at me. Looking up, startled, I saw my client emerging from the front of his house, looking towards me. I briefly looked around, saw no one else near me, and started to become giddy. Someone was acknowledging me! Who cares if they were calling me 'John', maybe someone told him that was my name, maybe I had a predecessor whose name was John and he just mixed up the names, maybe he just calls everyone John! Who cares!? So I replied, as loud and friendly, "Going good, how 'bout you!?. Exactly as I was saying this, I heard a voice from about 6 feet behind me expressing much the same sentiment. Turns out 'John' was a real person, a friend of my client, and he was standing directly behind me. So then my client, with a slightly puzzled look on his face, but ever friendly, attempted to continue the conversation with both 'John's simultaneously, all the while permanently etching in his brain that his gardener responds to 'John', so that must be his name! Fabulous, now we can converse on a first name basis!
(Sigh) And we do! It's just the wrong first name... But who am I to correct him, one of the only clients who ever bothered to discern that I am a real person with a name, not some benevolent and whimsical garden sprite who visits unseen then flutters away to have lunch with the garbage fairy and the house-cleaning elves.

1 comment:

  1. Well, Matthew, or whatever--in addition to lunching with fairies and elves you also have imaginary friends online. I really can't comment on how totally odd it is that you are leading a double life.