An Elfin Worker

I was delighted to find the sun out today, and with the light coating of hoarfrost on the trees and shrubs, made for an even more beautiful winter landscape. Of course with our humidity levels on the high side, it felt more biting-cold outdoors than it really was.

My first appointment was an early one, so I rushed to my office to get a file readied for a tenant who was to arrive at 7:30 a.m. to sign his lease, pick up his key, and do a final walk-thru on the home I rented him on behalf of an investor client of mine.

He showed up right on the dot, so I proceeded to go over his lease, have him sign it, and then get a check for January’s rent. Since his father was with him, we had a nice conversation about how times have greatly changed over these past 30 years. I was not shocked to hear him say he had to make job moves spanning three different States and cities, just to be able to stay in his field of expertise, and all due to corporations moving their plants to either Mexico or China. Yes, just one of many million jobs severed.

His last move took him out to the State of Wyoming where he worked until he was old enough to retire. When visiting about the weather out there, I was quickly brought up to speed on how much different it is than ours. Living 7,000 ft above sea level and situated in the path of a major wind tunnel, it was no wonder most people didn’t want to stay any longer than a year, and all due to the wind never wanting to stop blowing. The real shocker was when he said they’d get down to minus 25 below zero, but when those strong winds would start blowing, their wind chills would be off the charts. I had to laugh when he said most long-term residents don’t even bother telling newcomers what the wind does, as they have to learn for themselves because they rarely believe it until they’ve experience it.

We then talked about what trees were wind resistant, and sure enough they’ve had the same problem for years what we’re just now experiencing which is the “topping-off” of trees. He said they’d plant Elm trees, but once they became tall enough, they’d get crippled by wind damage, and once pine trees grew tall enough, they’d also get their tops snapped off. Sounds terribly familiar with our tree-scape, doesn’t it?

I mentioned something about our Red Cedars being relatively resistant, and he agreed that they’re using those as windbreaks along with Plum trees. Being familiar with both, I distinctly remember an ancient wild Plum grove which never seemed to be bothered by much of anything, but with the expansion of our City, it was leveled for development.
My concern is that our City Fathers are not making sure the trees they’re having planted in public areas, are wind resistant, and just these past five years, I’ve seen enough Locust tree limbs being snapped off by the wind, and especially in our Historic Downtown. My greatest fear, is that once that Locust they planted outside my office gets tall enough, there’ll be a wind storm strong enough to bring it crashing down on the side of my building and likely break windows in the process. Oh well, there’s nothing I’d be able to say that would make them remove it and plant something more wind-tolerant.

After we finished up at the office, they followed me over to the house to do a final walk-thru. All was to their liking, so I bid them farewell, along with telling the new tenant that if there’d be any questions he may have regarding our City, to please give me a call.
Knowing his job title and his outward character, he’d be another one I’d like to clone and sow across North Iowa for a renewed growth.

While driving away, I began thinking about the person who lived in that home for many years whose name is Leona Funk, and I’m pretty sure she’s still alive and likely pushing a 100 years. I’m sure any of you natives remember her because she was that short little lady who always wore a wig who worked at a number of our groceterias, and the last one being Hy-Vee West. If I’m not mistaken, she was employed there until she decided to retire after turning 90. Now that’s what I’d call a lifelong work ethic.

Whenever she’d wait on me, she’d always ask how my mother was because Leona’s long-deceased sister was a long-time friend of hers. What I remember the most about her, was how quickly she could run things thru the register to the point where I was reminded of an elfin worker. The wearing of a wig must’ve been due to something in her family’s gene pool because her sister didn’t wear a wig, but had very little hair on her head. To this day, I don’t even remember hearing what their maiden names were, so if I could go back far enough in the obits, I may find her sisters which would likely have it listed. The son of my mother’s friend lives here in our City, and now that I think of it, he’s nearly completely bald. Yeah, I’d say that thinning of hair had to’ve been genetic.

After I got back to my office, I decided to start shoveling that nasty snow which had all kinds of gravel in it, back onto the parking lot from which it was pushed. Minding my own business, I noticed the tavern’s owner pulling up, so I stopped shoveling and waited until he got out and then said, “I’ve told you all before, not to have your snow removal people pushing this on my parking lot.” Well, as I was expecting, he started in on me like a feral cat, but when he said, “If you put any more snow on my lot, I’m calling the police.” That did it. I stopped shoveling and said, “Don’t worry, I’m calling them right now.” and walked back into my office and made the call. Nonetheless, I was seething.

When the police officer arrived, I showed him a very clear photo I had saved on my cell phone along with telling him what happened. Making a tediously long story short, that gravel-filled snow is now gone, and I’ll remain confident it’s not going to happen again.
That episode was one more glaring example of how off-the-wall our society has become.

Tonight’s One-liner is: Our minds are like icebergs, as they float with 1/7th of their bulk above water.

Joe Chodur

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