“Reel” Conversations For Property Managers That Strike a Balance

“Reel” Conversations For Property Managers That Strike a Balance

Posted on 09. Jul, 2010 by in Greener Properties

Steven, a teenager on my block, has only ever had two choices in my yard: The garage-sale score or the German-engineered model. Both are reel mowers and both are used every week in my yard—sometimes concurrently.

This is the second season Steven has sought out jobs in our yard. He’s big for his age, which is a bonus—he can easily work on more laborious jobs but his wage is still somewhere near the late middle school bracket. Plus, Steven is a patient listener (read: he doesn’t roll his eyes) while he’s working in the yard. The pay is pretty good, after all.

It’s not uncommon to hear me call out: “Be careful when mowing around the rugosa roses in the front. Do you know you can drink tea made from rugosa rosehips?”

Or: “We decided to treat the wasp nest with non-toxic mint oil, but thanks for your suggestion of using gasoline. Unfortunately the nest was too close to our grape vines to use gas.”

And the inevitable: “Do you like kohlrabi? How about kale? Ever see a dragon carrot? I’ll harvest some for you to take home.”

Steven exhibits an economy of language typical of his age group.

Me: “OK, then, see you next week?”

Steven: “Yeah.”

So I was thoroughly caught off guard when he offered to bring his gas-powered mower to cut my lawn the following week. Perhaps it was his gracious tone that threw me: “I’ll bring my dad’s gas-powered lawnmower next time. It’ll go much faster.”

I stammered, “No gas! We want our yard to be free of gas!”

Well, that didn’t come out exactly as I’d hoped. Steven gave me a quizzical look and then pedaled off on his bike. When the next week rolled around, he cleverly presented me with an idea he’d been kicking around for a few days.

“You should get an electric mower. No gas!”

Yes, he’d heard me loud and clear at one of my least articulate moments. How to explain to someone at the ripe age of early teen that faster and easier is not always better? I just needed an angle that would resonate with him and not seem completely nuts when the thermometer was at 96 degrees and a butter knife could cut the humidity.

I mumbled something about “the importance of using the resources we already have” (in this case, two reel mowers) and “the benefits of quitting the gym for the free workout in the yard” (though that didn’t really seem like an ironclad argument since he was the one doing all the work).

When it got down to it, articulating our decision to use reel mowers was actually kind of difficult to do. Yes, we had considered all options, but we chose to commit to being a reel-mower household because it made the most sense for us. Here’s what I wish I’d told him.

“Steven, I suppose, first and foremost, it has to do with lessening our household’s impact on the planet. Sure, manufacturing reel mowers requires resources, but they run on human energy, which is a 100% renewable and has very little negative environmental impact. The Earth’s resources won’t last forever, certainly not at our current rate of consumption. We’ve all got to take a good look at our own behaviors and see where there’s room to modify, conserve, preserve—for your generation and the one after that and so on. I do this for you, Steven.”

Though if I really were to say this to him, I supposed he’d tell me to “get reel” before hopping on his bike.

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