My recent walk in the woods revealed the wonders of Nature’s seasonal preparations for Winter. Squirrels are darting from tree to tree, gathering nuts to bury in their earthen pantry and bunnies are tucking fresh sticks at the doors of their burrows. A few insects like bees can be seen buzzing about the last of the wildflowers, collecting the last drops of nectar, and flocks of geese are heard honking overhead as they make their way South. Critters are bustling, burying and battening down the borrows, signaling the change of season.
For me Autumn brings about the busiest time for custom digitizing orders, but business seems to take care of itself if I’ve kept up my routine duties. Things just come at me a little faster and I only need to keep appropriate control. It’s the personal responsibilities that I’m pressed to tend like domestic chores that never disappear, but could become frightening by Thanksgiving, should I let them lag.
The real priorities are seasonal like raking leaves before it snows – or before Girl Scouts leave nasty notes on the door. Yes, I realize their little bulletin was meant to educate folks in regard to the phosphorus released from dead leaves sliding into the storm drains that in turn affects the wildlife environment. Loving Nature as I do, I truly agree that efforts must be made. BUT … I do think a little thought might have been given to the boldly printed question, “What’s the problem?”
I quickly scanned the bulletin that was illustrated with leaves, rake and leaf bag, contemplating its intention. At first I was embarrassed as I looked up at the gold, pink and brown blanketing the yard. Egad! Hubby attempted the job last week, clearing the storm drains and rock beds with a leaf blower, but his bad head cold has delayed progress. Surrounded by trees, the job in our yard is never really done anyhow until the branches are bare or until it snows. My work hours only allow raking at midnight, which I’m sure the neighbors would not appreciate, so I planned this weekend to at least clear the entryways before I had to sweep up leaves from the kitchen floor. Alas, the sky decided to cry and I refuse to dance with a rake in the cold rain!
Disappointed with the weather, I retreated inside, still miffed with the seemingly snide request to rake my leaves. I was feeling a bit guilty. My yard hasn’t seen much attention most of the summer, because I’ve had indoor responsibilities, like cleaning up the basement after the spring flooding. (There’s a mucky chore I wish on no one!) But the Scouts had no idea who lives inside or what my story was. What if I was an old lady? Wait. I am. Well, what if I were completely incapacitated? How dare they make such a snarky accusation?! At least in that moment, that’s the way I had read the question … what’s the problem, are you too lazy to rake?
Then I recalled the spirit of Scouts-gone-by. What happened to the days when they offered to rake leaves to achieve a good Samaritan badge? Heck, if they would have inquired, I would have paid them for the job! I examined the bulletin a bit more closely to find an informative environmental message in faint tiny text that I actually didn’t oppose, but still, I was so put off I didn’t want to read the tiny print. “I’ll tell you what the problem is,” I snarled, tossing it into the paper recycling. “It’s the people who leave pieces of paper to blow away and litter my yard!” Then I surfed directly to the Girl Scout web site and left a hasty, nasty email about how appalled I was at their insinuating, rude bulletin.
This morning I stared out the window while stopping a sneeze with a tissue and realized I’d lost the battle of trying to not catch my husband’s cold. He stood next to me, staring and sneezing as well, promising to finish the leaves tomorrow, while noting the bare trees in the front yard were now “done”. I remarked that at least the part he cleaned up near the storm drain was okay yet, to which he replied, “I thought you did that. What I did last week filled right in by the next day. Must have been one of our great neighbors.” (We do have wonderful neighbors!)
After a moment of ponder, I marched to the recycling bin and took another look at that bulletin. It gave no indication that perhaps the Girl Scouts were out cleaning up leaves. It only gave a good reason to keep the leaves out of the storm drain, explaining what problem it caused, and on the back it gave directions on how to clean them up, where to dispose of them and a web site where it should be reported that the job had been done.
So, I returned to the Girl Scout’s web site and found yesterday’s announcement “Centennial Day of Service is today and thousands of Girl Scouts are out cleaning up organic matter to prevent phosphorous from polluting our lakes and streams” along with pictures of the hard-working crews whom I obviously missed seeing while occupied in my office.
Due to personal circumstances, I had obviously misunderstood the tone of the question on the bulletin and reacted – over-reacted – defensively. Marketers, take a lesson, choose your words carefully. One must always consider every possible scenario when writing copy. Just because a phrase is sure to grab attention, the way the words are received by particular folks in particular situations may not be what is intended. And it must be acknowledged, not everyone can just surf to a web site to clarify information, and even so, some simply will not.
The reason the Girl Scouts have for passing along the message is undeniably good – to educate in ways to protect the environment, which indeed I support. And I certainly do appreciate their commendable efforts, especially for lending a hand even in the cold rain. My sincere thanks to the Girl Scouts who cleaned up a bit of my mess, and I humbly apologize for quick assumptions, and most especially for that nasty email.
Nevertheless, I really do think someone missed the mark on that bulletin … just my two stitches, along with a leaf or two zillion.