My wife and I live in a very small community (21 homes). The community is governed (to our unending chagrin) by a homeowners association. My wife (God bless her) is president of the association. As such, she routinely receives all manner of crank communications from disgruntled residents who spend most of their time fabricating reasons to be disgruntled. Here’s one such missive, copied and pasted verbatim:

I don’t mean to be picky and I’m not questioning the measurements of the lawn cutting; measured mine today and it’s between 2 1/2″ & 3″ after being cut this past Wed. So what may be happening is that if more than one [of the association’s landscaping contractor’s] guys are cutting with different machines some may have their blades either lowered from their preceding customers’ and not reset or they have the blades in a fixed position. We agree that 3 1/2″ should be absolute minimum, and personally I and I know some others, would prefer 4″. It’s easier to cut at 4″ weekly rather than 2 1/2″-3″ and have to repair damage. What I’d suggest we do is each of us measure after [contractor’s] next cutting and compare.
Inveterate and incorrigible wiseass that I am, I told my wife I’d be happy to draft a response to said disgruntled resident. We’ll call him Charlie because that’s his name. Here’s what I wrote, which my wife sent to Charlie from her email account:



After reading your email, I did a little research. According to the guidelines of the Society Controlling All Landscaping Procedures (SCALP), very strict specifications have to be followed by all licensed landscaping contractors. Since [the contractor] is registered with SCALP, he and his employees are required to:

  • Use the metric system for setting the heights of all of their mower decks
  • Allow for tolerances that are plus or minus 1.5 centimeters (15 millimeters or roughly 0.591 inch)
  • Set all of their mowers to those tolerances
  • Instruct the members of their crew to check their deck-heights before mowing each lawn.

I’ll check with SCALP to make sure [the contractor’s] registration is still current. And I’ll ask [the contractor] to make sure each of his people has a new metric ruler.


Thank you for your note.

Here is Charlie’s response. I’ve taken great pains to leave his erudite eloquence — including diction, syntax, and punctuation — intact:

Up to you.

We didn’t hear from Charlie again (on this particular point of disgruntlement). Call me Irish, but I take that to be yet another in a long line of lessons proving the perennial power of sarcasm.

It may not have been poetry. But Walt Whitman would be proud.

P.S. The next beef was from Arnold, who called to complain that bees were buzzing around his flowers.

P.P.S. No. The P.S. was not a joke.

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