What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up ?

Don’t make the mistake of trying to live your failed Life through your children.  Don’t push them to become the doctors or lawyers that you wish you’d been, ‘cause the best you can do for your kid is to guide him/her toward a career in arboriculture. Then they can afford to be totally unreliable, never show up when they say they will (if at all), ignore potential clients and repeat clients, ignore phone messages, and e-mails.  Also they’ll learn never to use a simple scheduling program (read that as a calendar) to remind them when they said they’d get back to a client, and so on, ad infinitum.  As I explained to my neighbour months ago, it’s not just unprofessional, it’s just plain damned rude !  It’s like sitting down at a bar and saying “Good day” to the guy on the stool beside you, who smiles, shakes your hand, then turns his back and ignores you as though you weren’t there.

We had an arborist a few years ago who was a great guy.  So, we called him again this last Spring.  He’d done it before, and was excellent to deal with.  That was a few years ago.  This is what happened after 3 attempts to hear from him this Spring.

“Oh ! There he is” the wife happily announced as she leapt out of her chair.  I jumped up too as I was looking forward to once again seeing the only reliable arborist we’d found in 30 years.  As the wife went to the front door to greet him, I stood at the main window and smiled.  I raised my hand to wave when he suddenly threw it in gear and hit the throttle.  He disappeared in a cloud of dust and we never heard from him again.  “What the F**K was that all about ?” I asked the wife.  “No idea” she answered.

Apparently our tree is haunted, or possessed, or some damned thing.  I say that ‘cause we’ve never been able to entice the same arborist to prune it twice.  Perhaps it’s growing on a sacred Native burial ground just off the south-west side of our back deck.

Yes I realize there was an ice storm last Christmas, but we’ve had trouble getting help with that tree since we moved in 30 years ago.  Admittedly, it’s frickin’ huge ! But nothing a guy with a bucket truck can’t handle (since a couple have already). It’s very near the house and has large branches leaning out toward our dreaded neighbours to the South, so we’ve always been diligent so as not to have to deal with them.

But trying to find a new arborist every time we want to trim that tree is like pulling teeth.  A few months ago, we had a big name guy whose name would be instantly recognized by anyone in the county, drop by for an estimate.  He looked it over while telling us about his impressive boom truck and fantastic people.  Then he sat down and wrote up an action plan of what he believed should be done. He even knew our other guy (The Runner) as “The Runner” was an employee of his at one time. Mind you, the price tag was FOUR TIMES what “The Runner” charged ! We were so happy to have anybody promise to do it, we said “That’s fine, when can you do it ?”.  “Give me a month at the latest” he said.  I figured with a name as big as his, we were in the winner’s circle, albeit a tad poorer, but at least it was gonna get done.  The months passed.  The follow-up calls were made.  The assurances that he’d call back were heard.  The only thing we didn’t hear was the sound of his return call, or chainsaws in the backyard.

I can understand a guy having a problem with the job.  I can understand a guy not wanting to do the job.   OK, that’s fine.  For whatever reasons you have, don’t do the job if you don’t want to or don’t believe you can, but at least tell me that up front.  Don’t drop by, take the time, offer an estimate, agree to return in a given timeline to do the job, write up a plan, sign it, and ask me to sign in agreement.  Then spend the rest of the Summer ignoring us.  Then, we waste half the Summer not bothering to find someone to trim the tree before Winter because he said he’d do it.  I was shocked at some of the big names who’ve done this to us.

Anyway, there it was, early September and we were back into begging someone to trim that damned tree before next Winter’s ice storm.  We tried “The Runner” by e-mail one more time, and got nuthin’ so we said screw this, and we took a walk on the wild side.  Our hairdresser had been telling me about her son-in-law-to-be who does trees with another guy on the week-ends (a Licensed Utility Arborist).  We figured, what the Hell ?  Let’s give them a call.  The worst he could do is tell us it’s too big a job for him as all the other young guys without million dollar bucket trucks told us over the years. Besides, I didn’t want to offend my hairstylist by not even giving the guy a chance. Otherwise, on my next haircut, I feared I might leave looking like Kojak.

So I took his business card and called Ryan Jaynes of Shade Taker Tree Service. He answered the phone !  He said he’d get back to us (Uh-huh), but then he did !  He even came over to see the tree when we were out,as he happened to be passing-by ! Then he called again so we could get together and discuss what he felt needed to be done, and what we wanted done !  And that, is how you run a tree servicing business ! (No, our sponsor WordPress did not have a sale on exclamation points !  Those are to denote shock and awe !!)

As expected, Ryan didn’t have a reach truck, but told us he rents them when necessary, to avoid the massive expenditure of such a truck.  OK, so he assured us that he’ll do the job, then requested a bit of patience as his wife was “9 months pregnant” as he put it.  Despite that, within a very few days, he dropped in with his “crane man” (his Dad) and looked over the job.  We all wandered around the tree and discussed it until we came up with a plan. A day or two later, Ryan left a message with the price. The price was in line with the big name guy we had look at it.  However, the big name guy fast-tracked it around the base of the tree, pretty-much ignoring us.  Then he quickly wrote up a work order listing a few actions I felt were nowhere near sufficient for the concerns we had.  Then he handed it to me to sign, and was gone.  Never to be seen nor heard from again, which was actually just as well.  If I want to pay to be treated like an insignificant annoyance, I’ll go grocery shopping at the Metro.

crane on front lawn

Yes the crane did leave some marks. Nothing I can’t fix though.

In contrast, once the crane was in place, Ryan climbed our tree like a squirrel, and gave us an “eyes on” evaluation of what he could see from where we could never.  Then he’d offer professional advice while the wife and I (perched on the balcony) debated which branch to cut, and where to cut it.  He discovered a lot more rotten wood than we imagined there would be, and took it all away. I have no idea how some of those branches remained on the tree.  By the time he rode the ropes to the ground, he’d completed three times as much work as the big name guy had proposed for the same price, and I trusted my beloved tree once again.


At first mention, the idea of using a crane seemed a bit … overkill ?  I figured it’d be fun to watch though, but a crane ?  Really ?  Yes, a crane really.  That tree almost covers our whole, extensively landscaped backyard.  There isn’t room to lay a single branch, and dropping one could cause severe damage to the landscaping, so over the roof they went. After watching all those poor B’tards with bucket trucks all those years, I realized Ryan was absolutely correct.  The best way to handle that job was a crane (and yes, it was fun to watch too).  I snapped picture after picture, and caught some videos as well.


Watching Father and Son handle that job was a tribute to teamwork.  Peter, in the crane on our front lawn hoisted the boom over the house and dropped the cable blindly at Ryan’s directions.  He couldn’t see a thing with the house in the way.  Ryan would tie the branch off, direct Peter to take up just the right amount of slack, then he’d cut.  Peter would then lift the branch over the house, and hoist it onto the street where Chad (the 3rd member) would punish the wood shredder mercilessly with feeds of huge branches.  The whole crew of three were competent, friendly fellows who filled me with confidence, and then proved me right to be so.

After the job was done, Ryan expressed his wish to return next Fall for a quick manual pruning by hand climbing (no crane this time Damnit !).  OK then, we’ll call next September and we’ll see if Shade Taker Tree Service has the nerve to twice, tackle the silver maple from Hell.  Our thanks go out to Ryan, Peter, and Chad, and of course our hairdresser Lorraine.  We’ll sleep better during those howling windy Winter nights now.


***UPDATE – Jan 21 2015 – I can’t believe the gall ! We got a phone call tonight from, none other than the big name guy who ignored us last year.  He left a message claiming he could probably fit us in by February sometime. It was with great delight that I ignored his message.


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