My house is not big. It’s an old Cape Cod and decades ago the back portion of the second floor was expanded and the roofline raised so the upstairs rooms don’t have the typical slanted ceilings of this style house but even so the backside of the house is not any higher than a typical two-story home.
Twice a year the gutters need to be cleaned. It’s mandatory because I live under six enormous oak trees that probably predate the house and in the spring they rain down fuzzy, lime-colored, worm length things that clog the gutters and accumulate in the driveway and hang from the bushes. At the same time the gutters are cleaned, the spotlights in the corners of the house are replaced. Usually there are one or two that are burned out but they’re all replaced, the same process as for replacing batteries in smoke detectors when the time changes twice a year.
Our faithful landscaper Jesus takes care of the gutter cleaning and the bulb replacement for us. He stopped by to get reacquainted after winter and we walked around the house a bit and chatted about the flowering yellow weeds still spreading in the lawn and he reassures me again they have short lives and will be gone in a week, we talk about resealing the driveway when the weather is warmer, and replacing the lightbulbs.
He says he’ll do it. His crew can’t. I’m thinking it’s because it’s a special request and he’s made the promise.
Looking up at the house, Jesus says last year he sent two different crews of three men to clean the gutters and replace the bulbs and neither could do it. I look at the house and I’m lost. I ask him if they knew what to do. He says at the end of the day when the first crew returned to the office they said they couldn’t do it. So he sent a second crew and they called in from my house and said they couldn’t do it. Jesus came out to do the work.
I’m still not following what’s going on. We’re in the backyard and I look up at the gutters on the back of the house and finally ask him why not. He’s reluctant to tell me. I’m puzzled. Finally, he says they couldn’t go up. Now I get it. Jesus doesn’t want to tattle on his men or be the one that delivers the blow to their egos. I blurt out that they’re afraid of heights. And we laugh. The six men were deeply embarrassed to admit it.
Unfortunately, employing acrophobic gutter cleaners is bad for business.