UPDATE: One ‘Greedy Opportunist’ Apologizes, Makes Amends To Artist
UPDATE 1/14/11: Maureen Hoffmann, Writer of the Letter below, sent us the following update about this issue:
Both sons of my neighbor came over to apologize for the actions of their friend, “Mr. Chainsaw”. They assured me that they had not given him permission to cut the wood on my property, and they were angry that he had lied and reflected poorly on them.
One son called Mr. Chainsaw over to my house. He stood at my front door and apologized. He also agreed to come do storm damage cleanup and hauling for a couple of days, under my supervision and with one of the neighbors, to make amends and as compensation for the loss in value of the cypress he had cut up. In addition, he returned the two huge rounds of wood that he had cut off the 6 foot log.
Here’s her original Letter, first posted on Jan. 22:
The fee quoted by the arborist to remove the tree was enough to make anyone’s jaw drop onto the snowy ground. But it was mid-afternoon and getting dark. I had a tree on my roof and needed to get it off. And I was still on stun.
“Fine. Get the tree off the roof.” And that’s all he did for the price, taking full advantage of a bad situation. Removal and cleanup would have been an added fee. The urgency of my situation formed dollar signs in the eyes of the arborist.
The second tree, at the road, was brought down at no charge by Seattle City Light because of the danger it posed to the neighborhood’s lines. The crew was courteous and generous, welcome attitudes after the arborist’s pushy greed the day before. The 100 ft. trunk was cut into manageable pieces and dropped into a pile on the side of my property. The base of the trunk was left at a 6 ft. length, and lay in my lower parking area. I figured that all of this could be dealt with in a day or two, after the snow and ice melted.
The next afternoon, I was talking to a local artist that offered to buy that 6 ft. length of cypress for a commercial project she was working on. We measured it, and brainstormed about potential ways to integrate the wood into her project. She’d come by in a day or two, with a truck and some help, to pick up the heavy piece of wood.
An hour later, now dark, I heard a chainsaw droning on and on. I thought, “who in the world is using a chainsaw this late?” Then I realized the sound seemed to be coming from where the cypress log lay.
I flew out the door and to the road and won’t repeat the expletives that came out of my mouth. The cypress trunk was now only 4 feet long. Mr. Chainsaw was standing on my property, under the street lamp, making firewood out of my wood that had been destined for an art piece. Technically, doesn’t this amount to trespassing and attempted theft?
Mr. Chainsaw said that my neighbors across the street had told him he could cut and take it. Really? Couldn’t he (shouldn’t he) have come knocking on my door to ask politely, “Excuse me, but will you be using the wood from your tree that came down? May I cut it and take it?”
And, what were my neighbors thinking in granting permission that they had no right to grant?
We have all heard reports of post-disaster looting and artificially-high rates for repair and cleanup. It seems to me that after we’ve all endured snow, ice, power outages, downed trees, property damage, loss of work, etc., we should more readily offer generosity, respect… and lawfulness. An urgent situation does not grant license to forego courtesy and propriety! We will not be united through greed and opportunism.
My experience due to the downing of my trees gave me a glimpse into a “darkside” viewpoint. Fortunately, that glimpse was contrasted by the many offers of help, and by a plate of fresh-baked cookies brought over by my elder neighbors, an enduring sweet spot in the middle of a sour-tasting time.
– Maureen Hoffmann
[Have something you'd like to share with our 50,000+ Readers? Please send us your Letter to the Editor via email. Include your full name, and, pending our review, we'll most likely publish it.]