Author Topic: The neighbor and the gardener...Do I say anything?  (Read 3588 times)

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BarensMom

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The neighbor and the gardener...Do I say anything?
« on: June 03, 2014, 07:59:01 PM »
I had a situation involving the gardener shared by ourselves and the neighbor lady, "Norma," across the street.

Today, I was stumbling in my kitchen, having just woke up, when I hear "tap, tap, tap."  It was the gardener, "George," wanting to speak to me.  I usually leave that stuff up to DH, and stay well hidden on Tuesdays, but hey, he caught me, fair and square, so I opened the kitchen slider to see what he needed.   George told me that Norma wasn't home, that it looked like she was away, hadn't paid him for the month, and his rent was due tomorrow, could we pay him in advance for July?  I told him that DH usually has the checkbook, so he needed to call him and work it out.  I then called DH, who said to write him a check and mark it for July.  In exchange, George will do some extra hedge-trimming or some extra work.

Later in the day, after I had got my act together and was outside, I saw Norma's car in the driveway.  I later saw Norma and a friend get in the car and drive off.  I was tempted to say something to her at the time, but decided to bring it to the board and get advice before I put my foot in it.  I wanted to ask her if she had paid George and if she hadn't, to please make sure she does so he doesn't have to come to us to bail him out.  The other option is to ask if she had paid George to find out if he is "scamming" us because he got in trouble gambling yet again.

Why does this bother me, you ask?  Because this week we have several expenses involving Baren (oral tumor surgery, arthritis medication, antibiotics) to the tune of $1500+ that is already going to put a big dent in our budget for the month, so while we can afford to pay George in advance, that's $150 that we wouldn't have if something else happens.  And, no, it's not our problem if Norma doesn't pay George or if he doesn't have rent, we are essentially kind-hearted people who believe in the benefit of the doubt.  However, I don't like being "put on the spot," especially when I'm half-awake, in my PJ's, and my hair sticking straight up.

So my question is:  Do I say anything to Norma about this and how do I word this in a way that doesn't insult George as a scammer or coming across as sticking my nose into her business with George?

TootsNYC

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Re: The neighbor and the gardener...Do I say anything?
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2014, 08:06:02 PM »
Maybe simply state the facts that happened, instead of asking anything.

Say, "I had an interesting exchange with George the gardener today. He tapped on the sliding door and said, 'Norma isn't home, it looks like she's away, and she hasn't paid me for the month. My rent is due today--would you be willing to pay me for July in advance?' and so we did. I thought you ought to know."

Because, wouldn't you want to know if he *had* paid her? And shouldn't she be aware that she's doing some serious damage to her gardner's cash flow if she doesn't pay promptly? And doesn't she deserve to know that her reputation could suffer?

Please pass the Calgon

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Re: The neighbor and the gardener...Do I say anything?
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2014, 08:17:28 PM »
We have a similar set up in our neighborhood, 4-5 houses use the same gardener. In your spot I don't think I'd feel comfortable approaching my neighbors or want them coming to me.

I'd make a decision about George's initial request based on what my finances & comfort level dictated (ex. "We live on a tight budget each month, prepaying just isn't possible" or an agreement like he worked out with your DH) and if this became a regular occurrence I'd likely find a new gardener.

As far as the neighbor & George's business relationship: if he doesn't trust her to pay him on time or she's shown that she is untrustworthy then he should have the business sense to either drop her from his clientele or budget his expenses to work around a late payment from her. That's his choice.

sammycat

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Re: The neighbor and the gardener...Do I say anything?
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2014, 08:18:17 PM »
I'd say something to Norma. In her position I'd want to know, especially if it turns out he is scamming one or both of you.  Or it may just turn out that Norma had a brain fart and simply forgot to leave his payment out or something.

I'd just do it in a fairly casual way, something like "just wanted to let you know that George asked me to pay him in advance for July, which I did, as he hadn't been able to get hold of you for his last payment".

Just to clarify, OP, do you (and Norma) pay him in advance each month, or was asking for July's payment something really unusual? Does each household pay him separately, or is it a joint payment?

The Wild One, Forever

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Re: The neighbor and the gardener...Do I say anything?
« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2014, 08:22:42 PM »
When I saw this thread's title. I thought it was going to be at least a PG-13 post.    ;D

I agree that you should discuss this with Norma, and only pay in advance if you can afford to do so.  Some months are better than others.


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BarensMom

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Re: The neighbor and the gardener...Do I say anything?
« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2014, 08:39:06 PM »
Each household pays him separately - sometimes he bills us, but usually DH leaves our payment under the doormat on the first Tuesday of the month.  I don't know how Norma pays him - not our business.

George has asked for advances before, usually before going on his annual vacation or some other situation - about 2-3X/year.  This was the first one because someone else hadn't paid him.

Norma's backstory is interesting.  She was the girlfriend of "Dave," the original owner of the house.  Dave had worked for years on this house to get it just right and, when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, made a massive effort to complete the work.  He died after it was completed and left what essentially a brand-new house and quite a large amount of money to Norma.  After Dave's death, she gave off this lost soul, poor-me vibe and everyone felt sorry for her.  Now, a year later, we have all realized that she turns it on and off on a dime when it benefits her.  When it doesn't work, she gets nasty.

According to DH, she had George to do several "extras" for her and then either tries to flake out or cheat him when it comes to payment, using the above attitude(s).

sammycat

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Re: The neighbor and the gardener...Do I say anything?
« Reply #6 on: June 03, 2014, 08:49:22 PM »
Thanks for clarifying, OP!

With the added information, it does sound more like Norma is in the wrong here, rather than George trying to pull the wool over someone's eyes. But I would still mention it to her anyway. For all anyone knows, she may have a left the payment outside somewhere and it blew away.

PastryGoddess

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Re: The neighbor and the gardener...Do I say anything?
« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2014, 09:01:20 PM »
If you want to say something to Norma, go ahead.  But it's not necessary.  Norma and George have their own business relationship.  if Norma doesn't pay him, then he needs to deal directly with Norma.  It sits wrong with me that he is bringing you into a situation between him and Norma.  Even if Norma is the Wicked Witch of the North and West, he still shouldn't be involving other people in his business relationship with a client. 

If you could afford to pay him an advance, great.  But if you can't do that in the future, it's ok too. 

Carotte

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Re: The neighbor and the gardener...Do I say anything?
« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2014, 09:11:21 PM »
Why not a simple 'hey norma, George was asking after you earlier today/yesterday, you should give him a call'.
'He seemed preocupied' could even be added without infringing too much into either George nor norma's life.

veronaz

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Re: The neighbor and the gardener...Do I say anything?
« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2014, 09:15:58 PM »
Quote
so he doesn't have to come to us to bail him out.

He didn't/doesn't have to come to you to bail him out.

His problem with Norma not paying (assuming that's true) is between him and Norma.  I think you should have politely reminded him of that.  Also, his rent problem is between him and his landlord (although I wouldn't have commented on that).

Pay him for July services? Essentially you loaned your gardener money......not a good move, imo (especially considering your budget issues).

I don't think you should say anything to Norma.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2014, 09:20:39 PM by veronaz »

Carotte

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Re: The neighbor and the gardener...Do I say anything?
« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2014, 09:28:59 PM »
Quote
so he doesn't have to come to us to bail him out.

He didn't/doesn't have to come to you to bail him out.

His problem with Norma not paying (assuming that's true) is between him and Norma.  I think you should have politely reminded him of that.  Also, his rent problem is between him and his landlord (although I wouldn't have commented on that).

Essentially you loaned him money......not a good move, imo.

There's too much that relies on paying the rent in time that George shouldn't have to exploit all his options just because it could bother someone. Since it could bother his familly, wife, ability tout feed them, care for them, even just pay for the gas so that he could work...
The only thing he should have done is not tell OP that norma didn't pay, it should have gone:
'Barensmom, have you seen Norma? No? On a totaly unrelated note* would it be possible to have an advance? Unforceen circumstance* made it so that I have an important deadline I cannot meet without requesting one.'

* if George is telling the thruth I wouldn't fault him for adding a *pointed stare toward Norma house * so that OP understand what he is talking about.

dawbs

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Re: The neighbor and the gardener...Do I say anything?
« Reply #11 on: June 03, 2014, 09:32:43 PM »
Not that you *have* to do anything--especially as anything you do can put you in the middle, but you could also say "Sorry, can't pay you in advance, but I'll pass a message on to Norma" OR "Sorry, can't pay you in advance but would you like me to give you a call/text if I see that Norma is home?"

(Like I said, this does put you a bit in the middle.  But Mr. Dawbs and I had a business not dissimilar in how we collected bills to how George has to do his.  In more than one instance, a helpful neighbor [sometimes not even a customer/client of ours] made it possible for us to show up when the debtor was trying to pretend never to be home when we came to collect. 
Those people who were willing to get in the middle a bit helped us immensely.)

veronaz

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Re: The neighbor and the gardener...Do I say anything?
« Reply #12 on: June 03, 2014, 09:39:57 PM »
Quote
There's too much that relies on paying the rent in time that George shouldn't have to exploit all his options just because it could bother someone. Since it could bother his familly, wife, ability tout feed them, care for them, even just pay for the gas so that he could work...

I'm a bit confused by this.

I was just saying that OP isn't responsible for solving George's rent problems (as long as sheis paying for his services on time).  George should not have said anything to OP about Norma.  I don't think she should have gotten involved with delinquent payment issues of his other clients.

Quote
but would you like me to give you a call/text if I see that Norma is home?"

That is still getting too involved, imo.  One would think George knew how to call/text Norma.  If she's ignoring him, that's between the two of them.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2014, 09:43:37 PM by veronaz »

Carotte

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Re: The neighbor and the gardener...Do I say anything?
« Reply #13 on: June 03, 2014, 09:44:48 PM »
Quote
There's too much that relies on paying the rent in time that George shouldn't have to exploit all his options just because it could bother someone. Since it could bother his familly, wife, ability tout feed them, care for them, even just pay for the gas so that he could work...

I'm a bit confused by this.

I was just saying that OP isn't responsible for solving George's rent problems (as long as sheis paying for his services on time).  George should not have said anything to OP about Norma.  I don't think she should have gotten involved with delinquent payment issues of his other clients.

That's what I said that he shouldn't have said Norma had not paid. But just because Op doesn't *have* to help George it doesn't meant he shouldn't *ask*. Its been done before, asking for an advance, it doesn't matter why he needs it now, he still has to ask.

veronaz

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Re: The neighbor and the gardener...Do I say anything?
« Reply #14 on: June 03, 2014, 09:48:57 PM »
He could ask landlord for a grace period/extension.

Some people (gardening clients) would get turned off by such a request, and he'd lose a client(s).