Caffeine, Axl Rose, and Lawnmowers

I’m not a good sleeper. Blame it on the sleepwalking. Or an overactive brain. Even blame it on the rain (yep, that was a Milli Vanilli reference). Whatever the case, I don’t really sleep.

I do , however, love mornings.

Generally, I am awake when it’s dark out, and watching the world wake up makes me genuinely happy. I give you this information because it’s important to understand that I am morning person, so it takes a bit to rile me prior to Noon. After that, though, look out.

This morning, I was up at 5:30. I was sitting on my back porch, enjoying the semi-coolish weather, plugging away at things I have put off for far too long. At exactly 7:04am (I know ‘cause I checked), a lawnmower sputtered to life. I knew it was my neighbor’s Lawn Man because this has been a problem the entire year I’ve lived in my home.

I counted to ten as I felt my frustration. I mean, I was awake, but the rest of the neighborhood didn’t need to be. He and I have had numerous conversations throughout the last year about the need to start later on Saturdays than during the week. These convos typically end with him rolling his eyes and saying things like, “I’ve got a lot to do today.”

Today was no different. I marched over, screaming “Hey! Yo! HEY! GOOD MORNING! HEY!” I realized he had on earplugs – something he conveniently didn’t pass out to the rest of the neighborhood. I waited for him to turn around. I wanted him to be mindful of sleeping people in the neighborhood, but I didn’t want to tap him on the shoulder, scare him, and have him fall under the lawnmower, losing his legs in the process, thereby losing his ability to make a living. (Yes. This thought actually went through my head.)

The conversation went as per usual – we’ve had approximately ten of these in the last year:

ME: Dude, help me, help you. It’s too early for this. You know it. You feel it in your soul that you’re hurting people.

HIM: I’ve got a lot of yards today. It’s gonna get hot. The sooner I get started, the sooner I can be done.

ME: While a legitimate excuse, it’s still too early.

HIM: (rolling his eyes) Yeah, well…I’ve got a lot to today.


Oh…right…that last line needs context. I live in a neighborhood where the average age is 67…and that’s only ‘cause I moved in.

I stormed, indignantly, back to my house. DAMN THAT MAN AND HIS LAWNMOWER!!!! PEOPLE NEED THEIR SLEEP!!!

And then…I paused. The man is just doing his job – albeit too early – but he’s just trying to make a living.

So, I made two cups of coffee – one for me, one for him – then walked back over. We stood in the front yard of my neighbor’s house and had a chat.

Chris (good to know that’s his real name, since I’ve been calling him “Son of a Bitch Lawn Man” for a year) owns his own lawn maintenance company. His girlfriend is pregnant with their first baby – a girl. He listens to hair bands from the 80s when he’s mowing the lawn and is particularly fond of Guns N’ Roses – enough so that when I started to play air guitar and sing/hum the opening guitar riff to “Sweet Child O’ Mine” he joined right in. On my neighbor’s front lawn. With coffee mugs. He is a dog lover and has plans to go back to college, but needs to save up for the new baby. He had pictures of the sonogram on his phone. A lot of pictures.

By this point, it was nearly 8:00am. Chris promised that from now on, particularly on Saturdays, he would wait until at least 8:00 to get started.

For a year we’ve had a back and forth. I have spent the vast majority of my time trying to figure out how to break his lawnmower. I have pleaded with my neighbor to get him to come later. Somehow it was caffeine and rock bands that worked.

Lesson for today: coffee and Guns N’ Roses bring people together. Who knew?