In which Officer Alex explains why Craigslist is not necessarily a godsend...for anyone
Roger Nyles had a problem. A big one. In fact, I’d had the same problem a few times myself and the last time I had to solve it, it damn near killed me.
It was a tree.
Just as big as it was dead, it was posing a threat to his house with the next big gust of wind or the next big snowfall, and snow was coming, all right. You could even call it a double threat; it had forked at a young age, which by my guess would have been in the neighborhood of 100 years ago, and given the fact that Roger Nyles lived in a narrow valley that channeled wind like Christopher Walken channels creepiness, his struggle was very much real.
Mr. Nyles hadn’t ignored this looming threat. No. He’d had arborists and removal specialists come out to provide estimates, which were more like death threats than rays of hope. Costs started at $1,500 dollars, he knew that…but this was basically two trees with no room on his property for heavy equipment. It was pretty much a pie wedge with streets on two sides, one higher than the other, so even accessing it from the roadway was a pain. Estimates therefore ran from $4,500 to $7,500 dollars to cut a tree down in his yard. It may as well have been a million dollars. Roger Nyles, indeed, had a problem.
So in the year 2015, what do when your back’s against the wall? Where do you turn to for help when you have nowhere else to go? It was obvious: Craigslist.
The ad was placed and he’d gotten offers in the ballpark of the estimates he’d already received when 5-to-8 inches of snow was forecast in the next few days. Panic started to set in—and then he received an email from “Brian,” who said he was out of work but could remove such a tree for $1,200 dollars cash.
It was the answer to Mr. Nyles’ dreams. He accepted.
Brian assured him that he was bonded and insured, and was practically raised in the tree-felling business. He was a savant, the “Slingblade” of lumberjacks. Roger Nyles couldn’t have cared less if he was an accountant on sabbatical, such was his fear of this dead gnarled giant threatening his under-insured home, so he came up with the cash and Brian went to work.
Brian studied the tree from all angles. He thoughtfully touched his chin as he gazed up and down the length of the old red oak, measuring the degree to which each aspect leaned and how it would affect the other tree when one was felled.
This went on for some time until he finally went to the back of his beat-up ’80s-era Toyota pickup truck and pulled out a 20-inch Poulan chainsaw of about the same vintage. Mr. Nyles raised an eyebrow at this, but he trusted in his unexpected benefactor completely, such was his paralysis by impending doom.
Brian went to work and began making a series of cuts on the largest of the two halves. He moved with great confidence in doing so, and did all of this without so much as safety glasses; he just squinted and continued on, only pausing to refuel the saw from a grime-covered red jug.
Finally, Brian stood back, and a mighty creaking was heard. He lifted his left arm, still holding his chainsaw in the other hand, and indicated a downward slicing motion where the tree would fall on this narrow sliver of land—and the tree did anything but that.
In fact, it fell 45 degrees from that angle, which happened to be directly across the lower road in front of the house. It was so large Mr. Nyles didn’t think it would actually stop falling, ever, and the only thing that slowed its descent was the series of six different utility lines on a utility pole that was so large it was actually made of steel with flat sides, and then there was of course the car parked on the side of the road underneath that. And by some great galactic coincidence, it turned out the car was occupied when the tree landed in its roof (to the utter dismay of the driver).
The crash was still ringing in his ears, the soft glow of sparks from the power lines gently lit his face, and he was relieved to hear the occupant of the car screaming in rage and fear because that meant she was alive (and indeed ultimately uninjured despite all odds), but as he was recovering from this, a new sound replaced that of the falling tree: The sound of a 1987 Toyota pickup as it sped away with its driver, his chainsaw…and $1,200 dollars (cash).
He hadn’t even gotten “Brian’s” last name, he told the police officers that arrived while crews fought over who would be removing this mountain of a tree from a once-quiet road, after the driver of the crushed car had been extricated and evaluated by fire and EMS crews.
Mr. Nyles no longer needed a loan for tree removal so much as he now did a lawyer. Maybe there was a legal section he could consult?
You know…on Craigslist.
When officer Alexander D. Teach is not patrolling our fair city on the heels of the criminal element, he spends his spare time volunteering for the Boehm Birth Defects Center.