Thursday, November 5, 2009

Village Tools

As an arborist, I’m regularly called upon to assess trees in neighborhoods around Central Ohio. The nature of my work has allowed me to identify a number of personality types that are common from one neighborhood to the next. For those of you who may also have to deal with persons exhibiting these territorial idiosyncrasies, I share the following profiles, and offer advice for dealing with each of them.

Know-it-All – This person won’t hesitate to approach you and tell you how to get the job done. Never mind that they don’t know who you are or what you’re up to—they’ve got an opinion and they can’t wait to share it with you. You’ve spent hundreds, perhaps thousands of hours learning your craft; but the Know-it-All feels compelled to enlighten you with knowledge he has gleaned from an article in the March 1962 edition of Popular Mechanics magazine, or the waitress at Waffle House. Your best tactic for dealing with the Know-it-All is to smile, a big smile, and exclaim repeatedly, “No English!”

Not in My Backyard - They circle, timidly at first, as they repeatedly whine, “Excuse me! Excuse me!” or “May I help you?” You think: “Not unless you go into your house and never speak to me again—that would help me, otherwise... no!”

This person (usually female) is the most territorial of the group, and feels great anxiety that you are so near her home, no doubt up to something that will have a negative impact on her home’s value. You can get rid of this antagonist by looking over at her house and asking, “Who’s that in your back yard?” If she returns (after not finding anyone there), excitedly exclaim, “They’re they are again!” She’ll stay put.

Conspiracy Theorist – Your role in their drama is to listen as the Conspiracy Theorist shares their suspicions regarding the real reason the neighbor across the street is having a new concrete patio installed. You can get rid of the Conspiracy Theorist by telling him you’re on undercover assignment and that you need his help in keeping an eye on Mrs. Not in My Backyard

Fuss-Budget – It doesn’t matter what you’re working on or the level of professionalism you bring to the task; the Fuss Budget will question your intentions, thoughts and deeds with a worrisome look and fretful tone. It’s recommended that you kill her cat so she has a legitimate reason to fret.

Contrarian – Once the captain of her high school debate team, the Contrarian is similar to the Know-it-All. Convinced that she is the repository of vast sums of knowledge, she listens to your pleasant (though apparently careless) conversation, waiting for the opportunity to tell you you’re wrong, explain why you’re wrong, and then step back with a triumphant look in her eye as she awaits your rebuttal. The best method for dealing with a Contrarian is to make a statement in response (any statement will do), and then yell: “I win!” and run away.

Skulker – This person won’t approach you right away; they may not approach you at all. Your first hint that they’re nearby will be a sensation that you’re being watched. The Skulker is especially good at casting disapproving looks in your direction, or staring through you as if you don’t really exist. You can shoo the Skulker away by slinging the Fuss-Budget’s dead cat at her

So there you have it. These techniques work most of the time, but aren't guaranteed. It's good policy to carry a stick with a sharp point on the end... just in case!


Brenda's Arizona said...

Great capture of some of every neighborhood! I appreciate your post - I tend to try to see people in categories and I challenge myself to find something in each person to dispute my thoughts. But I bet you get the cream of the crop! You nosey arborist, you!

Jude said...

This was a fun post and I see many of those same type people where I live. I'm trying to decide where I fit in, but I'm sure I don't see me the way someone else might.

CatLadyLarew said...

You may have noticed me skulking across the street. I was the one holding the Dr Pepper. (Dead cats don't scare me... I don't actually like cats.)

Carl Vine said...

CatLadyLarew: Hence, the stick with a sharp point on the end! The Dr Pepper drinkers are a particularly dangerous lot!

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