I love autumn, don’t you?
Crisp mornings, golden leaves, sunshine filtered through the trees…well, unless you live on my street. Then autumn is – frankly – a total pain.
Let me explain. One side of my street has Victorian town houses. The other side is lined with trees and a small stream. Every autumn, the trees shed their leaves all over the road. So I usually spend around an hour a day during October and November clearing leaves from under my car windscreen wipers. This isn’t as easy as it sounds when you’re five foot three (on a good day) and drive a hulking great CR-V.
Even more annoyingly, the leaves drift into the gutter, and gradually block up the grates so that every winter, the road gets flooded, meaning you have to try and leap 10 foot wide puddles to get in and out of your car (see previous remark about being five foot three for an insight into how fun that is).
Luckily, though, our local council is getting better and every few weeks now they send a team of guys with industrial leaf blowers to clear the road of leaves, and then they use some sort of industrial hose and a vacuum cleaner to rinse away the mud, and suck the water back up, along with any excess water in the drains.
Today, I was standing in my lounge, chatting on the phone, when I heard the drone of leaf blowers and realised the Leaf Clearers were hard at work clearing our road, which was deserted, except for my car. “I really should offer to move my car, so they can get all the crap under it,” I thought. I’m such a good citizen, I told myself.
So I grabbed my car keys and headed outside.
The head Leaf Destroyer (I’m assuming that’s his job title) was standing just to the right of my front gate, trying to blow leaves around the tyres of my car.
“Excuse me?” I said.
“EXCUSE ME?” I said, a bit louder.
No reply. God it’s not easy being a neighbourhood hero, is it?
“EXCUSE ME!!!” I yelled.
The man pulled one of his ear defenders away from his head. Yeah, he heard THAT, I congratulated myself.
I was still congratulating myself as the Leaf Destroyer turned towards me to see what I wanted…. while still holding an industrial leaf blower running at full power.
Within approximately 0.01 of a second, I was covered, head to toe, in leaves, mud and the contents of puddles made up of Lord knows what material.
We both froze. Our eyes met. There was a moment of complete silence, except for the continuing whine of the leaf blowing machine.
I wiped a streak of mud off my face, and looked down at my white t-shirt, white Converse and blue jeans to see everything speckled with various brown substances.
Of course, I did the only sensible thing for an English person to do in those circumstances.
I pretended absolutely NOTHING had happened.
Without making eye contact with any of the six men who were now staring at me, dumbfounded, I got into my car, moved it forward 10 feet, and walked back to my house, as though it’s a completely regular thing to be covered with mud, leaves and water. It’s not easy to be nonchalant when your Converse are squelching with every step, let me tell you.
And if anyone asks, THAT is why I’m eating my second slice of chocolate cake today.