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Tree topping

OK, so these two aren’t Blackie and Brian. But this is what it seemed like!

Imagine yourself in a multiplex movie theater. Curiously, no walls separate the half-dozen theaters that form the multiplex. Miraculously, you are watching six different screens all at once, thoroughly understanding and enjoying every scene, word, character.

Welcome to ADHD.  [You in the Real Word, click the red underlined hyperlinks!]

For the record, ADHDers can set out to do a certain task and actually come away with that deed accomplished.

Say, interjects Screen Six, that even happened to you once, right?

“Hey,” casually says Brian Gilbert, youthful entrepreneur behind his noted lawn-eating, grass-seeding, yard-weeding business, “got a question for you.”

Run! shouts Three.

I lied in an earlier column when I told you we of the six-screen sort never learn. I did learn something: if fellow six-screener Brian has a question for me, it means I’ll help him in something strenuous and dangerous. It also means I will get paid half of what he promises, which never covers the resulting doctor bills.

Brian increases his pace to catch up with my fleeing form. “Hey,” he says, a little winded, “ever fell a tree?”

I’m jogging now. But he, at 17, is young and strong.

“Hey” – puff, puff – “got a little one to drop right here in town. Won’t take but 10, maybe 15, minutes.”

Can’t … outrun … him, notes Five, also winded.

“Saturday, guy” – puff, puff – “right by the elementary school. Just one tree. Give you ten bucks.”

I stop. “Ten?” Wheeze, wheeze. “For 15 minutes?”

Quick cash, boss, notes Four. You need that. You’re between jobs.

Between jobs” pops out of ADHD mouths as often as carbon dioxide and “Gonna eat that?” In the same manner as that of a truck-driving friend who took on 31 jobs in 13 years, we are between jobs more than we are in jobs. This is because we are highly distractible when we’re not challenged, we don’t care for the present system, and we believe we have better ways of doing things.

We do, affirms Six.

Unfortunately, these views rarely are shared by management personnel, who instead spout such unkindnesses as, “We’re giving you the opportunity to work for someone else,” and “Really, you’re a very hard worker – there’s got to be somebody out there who can appreciate whatever it is you do.”

“Cash sounds good, Brian.” Oxygen, please! “Especially since, for now, I’m, uh, investigating employment opportunities.”

“Between jobs? Again? Wow, sorry. See you Saturday!”

Waiting at the specified house, I overlook Brian’s tardiness by trying to guess which little tree we’re taking down.  Four advises, Just saplings in the front yard, except for –

“This one!” shouts reverie-shattering Brian. He does not apologize for his lateness. He does stomp right up to the biggest fir tree

In the town, states Four.

–  and climbs it, roping off the top.

That fir?” I shout up to him from the street, where I have a better view of our lofty lad. “The humongous one between the houses?”

“Yep,” Brian hollers back. “I’ll climb down, v-cut the base and you can pull it over.”

“Brian, listen to me. We can’t do this.”

Sure you can! exclaim six screens and Brian.

“No, we really can’t. There’s a power line in front – ”

“Tree will fall just short of it.”

“ – and nice homes on both sides. We’re hemmed in, three of four directions!”

Earthbound once more, Brian puts on his safety glasses. Those, predicts Five, probably won’t be useful when the tree becomes one with the house.

Screen Six crows, Remember how that one fir bounced when it hit ground and then smashed into a bunch of other stuff? Great!

“Listen, Bri, there are kids running all over these yards!” Chainsaw roars to life. “Tell me you’ve got insurance!”

Accordion King

Brian in his younger, more innocent days

“Pull when I say,” Brian shouts, throwing me the guide rope. I miss my chance to wrap it around his neck and he runs – not with scissors but with a flesh-eating chainsaw! – back up the yard toward the doomed tree. He leans down, lays the saw against the trunk and makes chips fly as the chain bites swiftly and deeply.

I look at the thin rope in my hands. Plenty strong! assures Six, who has never dropped a tree in his life.

Crack! goes the big boy, exult five other screens, and I hit hyperfocus. Every sense blasts to life instantly, powerfully, vitally. My head throbs with information, estimations, calculations as the chainsaw growls unslowed.

“Step back,” I yell so I can tug the tree and set its path. But unabated, the brilliant white sawdust flies forth from the growing gash like so many moths.


Direct the fall, says Five calmly, but I’m losing my chance. “Brian, step back!” I shout more forcefully. He stays bent at that awkward angle, saw chewing at that thick wooden base and noisily covering the tree’s death groans.

Three of the screens command, Run there, yank him to safety! Two others applaud my nerve as I stay rooted in place. And Four observes, Lotta neighbors comin’ to watch. Gonna get their money’s worth on this one.

The huge tree is in motion, its long, slow tumble an irreversible curse that will sweep over and crush this young friend. My desperate, hoarse and final “Brian!” is unheeded. A fearful onlooker rightfully shouts at me, “You’ve got to pull, man!” but I cannot.

From the midst of the wooden storm, Brian emerges, a ghostly figure moving without urgency. His sawdust-laden arm signals “pull” and I do so with fear-factored strength that might lift a small car, yes, but may mean nothing to crashing giants.

Teeth grit, I’m still pulling when I realize I am in the tree’s path … and reach.

Six is in his element. Listen to those bystanders cheering. They’ve never seen someone rope and run before!

Dying fir issuing one last craaaaack!, it picks up speed in its horrifying descent. Screens feed nonstop commentary – people jumping, Brian safe, branches scraping, children screaming, head throbs, legs failing – as I race to safety, then turn.

The boom’s concussion nearly knocks us down. Dropped it in the one place it could safely occupy, congratulates Six. The one you left moments ago.

Brian, a fir chip-powdered dog tossing wooden fleas with each shake of his body, joins me. “Why’d you get so excited?” he says, slapping his clothes.

Do the same to his face, urges One.

“Pay me,” I spit through quivering lips. “Half an hour.”

“OK, so it took 30 minutes,” he says with a laugh.” He reaches into his chip-filled pocket, pulls out folded money and places it in my hands. I blow the sawdust off and discover a five-dollar bill. “Where’s the rest?”

“Guess that’s it. Sorry.”

“That’s it, Brian? That’s what you’re paying me?”

“Really, if you think about it, I did the hard work. All you did was pull the rope.”

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Postscript: Remember the column detailing my trouble with cellphones? I thought things could get no worse until I had to write my boss this e-mail ..

Blackie: Sunday afternoon, Miss Denise, my cellphone was stolen right in front of me! (Actually, right behind me!) I stepped out of my car and walked a few feet along a roadway to pick up garbage. When a car stopped just past me, I turned to see why … the driver picked up my cell (the protective case for which had come unclipped from my belt) and drove away. They won’t answer my calls, either. Please discontinue service immediately so these bums don’t rack us up in text/long distance costs.

Miss Denise: Just reported your phone stolen to Human Resources here. They tell me the punishment for your gross negligence is that you will be hung up in the company parking lot for a week and smacked like a piñata.  Hope you will enjoy the experience as much as I. Have a nice day.


How to cut down a tree (without losing your life or your friend)

Dying father surprises two daughters with final gift

ADD and ADHD clearly defined