The Thinker

Time to dig up the lawn again

I would file this under “General Annoyances” if I had such a category.

During midweek, we came home to find part of our lawn dug up and parts of our sidewalk in pieces. Ho hum. I am getting used to it by now. This seems to be an annoying fact of modern life. Once a year, sometimes more than once, some utility will come by, break up sections of our sidewalk, and tear up our lawn.

This time it was Verizon. How do I know? Because a Verizon guy actually knocked on my door to “inform” me that our telephone service may have been disrupted for a time. Not to worry; it was done to install this nifty new fiber optic high-speed internet service call FiOS. Okay, whatever. I shut the door in his face. I hate it when people knock on my door pretending not to be selling anything but are really selling me something.

I guess Verizon got annoyed that our cable company Cox Communications beat them by six years in the high-speed internet business. That is how long we have had their high-speed internet service. We were the first on the block to subscribe back in 1999. Seeing their revenues plummet, Verizon is finally coming around to offer some competition. They never even bothered to offer Digital Subscriber Lines (DSL) in our neighborhood. That technology requires you to be fairly close to a major telephone switching station, and apparently, we are not. Now they have arrived at last with a fiber optic high-speed Internet / TV / POTS (plain old telephone service) bundle. Of course, to offer these new technologies they had to tear up our lawn and break apart our sidewalks.

They insist that they will make it look all nice and pretty again. They laid new sidewalk on Thursday and it is now drying. Moreover, they will stick sod back to fill in the gaps and like the others, throw some ryegrass on it for good measure, although it will not germinate for a couple months. Meanwhile my lawn will look like hell. Well, at least so will all our neighbors’.

The result of all these repeated diggings is I have a front lawn that even in the middle of the growing season looks like hell. Admittedly, if I were a bit more anal about throwing fertilizer and weed killer on it, it would look better. I know the odds favor that some company with an easement will show up during the year and just tear up the darn thing again. So why bother?

In fact, Verizon is replacing blocks of sidewalk that were just replaced two years ago. I am not sure who was digging it up then. It all rolls together in my mind. Was it Cox Communications putting in their fiber optic/digital cable/telephone service? Was it Washington Gas? Was it the electric company replacing bad wiring? Was it the electric company putting in that streetlight near the corner by our house? Whatever. My lawn seems to be of intense interest to many companies out there. They cannot leave it alone. Unfortunately, they are not doing a good job of restoring it to a healthy lawn. Instead, it is another patch job. As a result, my front lawn constantly suffers from erosion problems. I am not too surprised. After all, when does the new grass have a chance to get firmly established?

Twice in the nearly thirteen years that we have lived in the house, we were actually responsible for tearing up the lawn. The first was an involuntary experience: a defective PVC water pipe broke. $3500 later and about a week later we solved that problem. The other was to deal with our drainage problem. We had our lawn service install a pipe that fed our storm water out into the street. That turned out to be a much cheaper solution than trying to waterproof our basement.

There should be better ways for utilities to do their work. I wonder why houses cannot be built with three main pipes: one for the sewer, one for the water, and one for all the electric and electronic necessities in life including power, telephone and cable. The latter would need to be a big pipe, but at least cables could be snaked through it and the lawn would not have to be torn up. I would think it would save the utilities boatloads of money. If our legislative representatives want to be useful, why don’t they work on common sense legislation like this? Instead, they are wasting our tax dollars passing stupid and mean marriage amendments.

One thing is for sure: there will be more digging up of my lawn in the years ahead. Life is about change and business has to respond to change. And that means to bring their services to me, many of which I do not want, they will have to dig my lawn up again.

If I am very lucky, I may get through 2006 without my lawn being assaulted yet again.

 

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