Saturday, August 06, 2011

New Gardener

A few years ago when I was younger and my back stronger I used to mow my own lawn and trim/prune my own garden shrubs. However I realized this is becoming difficult so I relied upon contract gardeners to do the work once every 6 weeks or so. The first was a Chinese fella with a Indonesian employee. They did a good job and I paid him cash every time he finishes the work. But he is a complainer, he complains of this and that, and seldom see his life and work positively. I played along with him since his work was good, he was careful and cleaned up after he finishes. I paid him RM80 which included fertilising the garden and weeding the planter box. For some reason he decided not to continue even after I booked him. Yet he chose to continue servicing other homes that hold back his payments. Odd. Anyway that was his problem and I started looking for other gardeners.

The next one did a few rounds and stopped on his own. It wasn't that my garden was extra large or hard to mow or I underpay, or hold back payment, or create excessive and unreasonable demands. Whatever the reason, I had to look for a new gardener. I contracted the de facto gardener of my housing estate. His name is M. I knew M since the day I moved in and I decided to use him. We agreed on RM60 which does not include the extras provided by the Chinese contractor. M was petty and uncooperative when asked to do a little extra. For over a year he was OK then he started to miss the appointment dates we agreed. I felt it was discourteous to agree and not show so again I just let it go. Maybe he has too much business that he doesn't appreciate his customers, or he is plain indifferent. Again I decided I am not going to be held ransom by my contractor gardener so I got hold of the Bangladeshi contractor who painted my house last year who happily came and did the work in June. My grouse was he does not have a mower but just a trimmer so the grass cutting work was messy. I used him to tie over until I can find a better gardener with proper tools.

I was introduced to the current gardener, K, by my pest control technician. He is a retiree and cut grass to pass time as well as earn a small income. I was a little sceptical about him when he forgot he has an appointment with me today and I had to remind him yesterday, but I thought I should not prejudge him.

This morning he showed up late. He came at 10am instead of 9.30am as he promised me and I was already planning to use the Bangladeshi contractor, or my back neighbour's contractor, as a back up, since my lawn is getting quite wild. K showed up in his rickety van with 3 other workers. Among them they had a lawn mower and 2 trimmers. We negotiate a price. I said I will pay RM60 for the same scope of work M provided. K and his team went to work and finished at 11am. I was happy with the quality and his work attitude. I decided to up the fee to RM65 this round and in future to RM70 which was his asking price. But I was sad to hear from him that he plan to retire from gardening end of the year and I quickly told him to connect me to another gardener who will take over his 50+ clients. I don't want to be left high and dry without a reliable gardener next year.

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