Leaf Blower Culture


imgresComing home after dropping my son off at school this morning, I turned onto our street and was again assaulted by the noise of two or three leaf blowers being fired up by landscapers getting a start on their day in my neighborhood. I often wonder what happens when the landscapers of next-door neighbors show up to do their work at the same time. I’m assuming that, by mutual agreement, they turn their blowers away from each other toward the houses on the other sides, otherwise, unless one of the landscapers had a much more powerful leaf blower, they would be there all day.

Because leaf blowers don’t really clean anything up, they just transfer the ownership of a problem (leaves) from one person to another. Hey, I’ve got some junk on my lawn. I’m going to blow it on yours, ok? Except there’s never an “ok?” involved. The landscaping industry has really done something brilliant here. They basically get paid to litter, and create more work for their fellow landscapers. My landscaper blows leaves and dust onto my neighbor’s property, which means my neighbor’s landscaper (who used to be mine, until I fired him because his work sucked) has work, mostly involving blowing dirt and leaves toward the neighbor on the other side, or (more probably) toward the lawn of his former customer (me).

It’s the same thing as “dusting” inside the house (or, as Amelia Bedelia calls it, “undusting”). I never got that, either. I mean, when you use a feather duster to brush the thin coating of dust on tables and furniture, unless you’re brushing it toward a teeny-tiny black hole that sucks in the dust, sending it through a wormhole to another point in the space-time, you’re wasting your time, creating a temporary sense of clean. When the dust settles back down, however, you’re right back to where you started. When science does give us the ability to create tiny black holes, we’ll be recreating the landscaper problem, sending the dust from our fireplace mantles, end tables and lamps into either another part of the universe, or a different universe altogether. I hope whoever lives there don’t have huge space battleships that could trace the small black holes back to our universe/planet, and come and kill us. I’d hate to see the end of the human species be over a desire to have dust and crumb-free living room furniture.

Now of course, there are those landscapers who use leaf blowers to gather lawn detritus together so they can scoop up, bag and transport it. But, the vast majority are just walking around, leaf blowers blowing, making their customer’s problem someone else’s.

Unfortunately, this strategy isn’t limited to lawn work, and we’re increasingly applying leaf-blower techniques to other areas of our life. Think about the things you do today, and ask yourself, am I really solving problems and getting things done, or am I just “leaf-blowing” away the things that get in my way?

One of the biggest examples of this, is debt. The United States has anywhere from $17 to $30 TRILLION in debt (depending on who you ask and how honest they are). Our government spends more every year than it collects in tax revenue, and puts the difference on a big credit card that they get to determine the credit limit on. Doing this is just like firing up a big leaf blower and blowing it to where are kids and grandkids will be living when they grow up and start working (if there are any jobs left). We need to stop this.

First of all, we need to put someone in charge to collect all the leaves (debts), bag them, and find a way to, in an environmentally kind way, get rid of them. To overextend the metaphor, I’d recommend not burning them (defaulting), but finding a way to use them as we cut down on the number of leaves that fall in the first place. Okay, the metaphor is officially over-extended. That would mean cutting down the tree and replacing it with a plastic tree-like structure. Bad idea. But you know what I mean. Right now, we’re blowing the leaves mostly into the yard of the Chinese family that lives next door. If we start burning the leaves we’ve sent them, it may catch their house on fire, and that’s a bad idea, because they’ve got more than a billion relatives, and lots of nuclear weapons. Who wants to piss off neighbors like that?

Hey, maybe this metaphor has some legs after all.

At any rate, lets try and start to go easier on the leaf blowers, but in the meantime, let’s not piss off the Chinese people next door.