I will be the first to admit that I am not always on the same “mental plane” as my customers. In a service related field I am able to meet different people from all walks of life. Some of the people I meet are really “out there”. It is my duty as a professional to stick to the task at hand and listen to my customer no matter what they say without showing a single judgmental facial expression or any other physical signals that show my true thoughts…that they are indeed bat shit crazy! I am constantly surprised to see the crazy things that people do.
I got a call around 9am one morning on a Saturday from a gentleman who seemed very much out of breath and sort of distraught. He tried to speak but was running out of breath in mid-sentence. He said “Hold on a minute…I’m out of damn breath!” So, I patiently waited for what felt like an extremely long minute and then he finally caught his breath. He said “Do you catch lizards…Big ass lizards?” I said excitedly “why… yes I do!” Now my first thought was that this guy found an alligator or something which isn’t so uncommon in the area he lived in. He was very vague in his description of the “big ass lizard” and in fact I was wondering if it were just a prank someone was playing on me. So without gathering any information about the actual situation I did finally get something out of him. He mentioned that he had been trying to catch this big lizard for 3 days now but it just wouldn’t come to him. I was very curious now and agreed that I would come over and give him a fair price once I saw what I was dealing with. So, I got in my truck and zoomed on over. After showing up and seeing for myself what was happening, I’m very glad I didn’t give him a price over the phone!
I made it to his house in record time (Don’t worry, I always obey most speed limits). My curiosity was killing me! A big ass lizard sounded like the perfect interesting call that was surely going to satisfy my need to catch something other than squirrels or raccoons. As I pulled into the driveway an elderly man came trotting towards me. He came to the window before I could get my door open and introduce myself and yes he was still out of breath apparently since we talked on the phone last. He said “Boog gone crazy…he is just not listening”. So calmly I pushed my door slowly open in an attempt to egress from my vehicle but he was so out of breath from….whatever he had been doing that he just leaned on my door. I just smiled and waited until he was able to let me out. After a few strange minutes of awkward silence (minus the sound of his wheezing) I was able to get out of my truck and walk to the back yard. I noticed something very strange. This man had a chain linked fence around his entire back yard which in itself is not strange until I noticed that each fence post (probably 20-30 total) had every manner of fruit and vegetable known to man duct taped, tied, and stapled to these posts. I said politely and professionally, “what’s up with the vegetables and stuff?”. He then replied in a short breath “That’s what Boog likes”. This was like a rejected episode of the twilight zone. I couldn’t get any information from this guy. I wasn’t sure if maybe he was mentally unstable and I had completely fallen for it or what. Then I heard a sound that was unlike most I have heard. It came from an Oak tree. It was a huge “rushing” sound that seemed to shake all the branches of this huge tree. This Oak tree was the tallest tree I have ever seen in my service area. Yet as I stared into the green leaves of its tall branches I was squinting to locate a shape or profile of an animal that could make such a large sound. At that moment I noticed something very much like the first “Predator” movie with Arnold Schwarzeneggar when the spec ops guys finally saw the predator’s pixelated portrait running through the tree tops. It was Green and at least 6 feet long with huge spines on the back of its neck. It was an iguana…a Big ass iguana! Apparently Boog was this man’s pet. I was informed by the customer that Boog was being “extremely bad” and that he jumped off the man’s shoulders and ran up a tree while they were “playing in the yard”. Boog was up there for three days before this man called me. The first thing he said to me after I noticed the large lizard was simply “you are gonna need a bigger ladder”. I knew this lizard was no ordinary adversary. Iguanas this large can give a nasty bite and use that huge tail as a whip. It will cut through a person’s skin quite easily. Lastly, his claws were close to an inch long and were extremely sharp. So how did I catch him you might ask? Well, I used his size and weight against him.
I noticed a large plastic tarp in the corner of his yard, big enough to cover a decent size boat or truck. I then draped it across two sides of his chain link fence to form a large “catch basin” that would be able to successfully break the fall of a 30lb lizard from 80 feet up. I will admit that I wasn’t sure if it would work. That didn’t matter though because I noticed that this poor man who had lost his pet was now behind me trying to fight back tears because he was scared something bad was going to happen to Boog. I couldn’t let this guy’s pet croak on my watch! I jumped into action and grabbed my 32 foot long ladder and my 20 foot long painter’s extension pole. I extended the ladder in to this massive tree as far as I could go. Once the ladder was fully telescoped out I began to climb. Big Boog matched every step I made leading us higher and higher into the tree. I finally reached a height where the branches started getting too flimsy to hold me up so I extended my painters pole. With several large jousts of my pole against Boogs big green body I noticed that he wasn’t very happy about it. He flattened his body and started hissing loudly. At that moment he tried to rush up the tree but he was too heavy, the branches he was on started to bend and I knew that if I was going to get a chance to push him off the tree this was the time. With gusto I rammed the pole into his tail end one last time and that’s all it took. He plummeted to the tarp I had set up for him and was able to break his fall without injury. The customer ran over to his beloved Boog and began kissing him on his big green scaly lips. He said “boog don’t you ever run away again, I will make you breakfast now”. He briskly hauled the lizard away on his back out of sight leaving me to myself. I eventually got my ladder back on to my truck and grabbed my clipboard before knocking on the front door in attempt to claim my monetary prize. The man (who was still out of breath) hugged me, drooled a little on my shirt collar and invited me in for tea. So, I said to myself, “ I could really go for some tea right now after all that climbing!” The man said that he wanted to show me something first. I noticed an elderly lady sitting at the kitchen table with a blank expression on her face. Me being the intuitive conversation maker that I am asked the man who this lady was. He said “that’s my wife, pay no mind”.. I said “okee dokee” and followed the man in to his far bedroom. He showed me his bed..where boog also sleeps at night..which was also equipped with a reptile heat pad for those cold nights they share together. His wife slept in the guest bedroom according to the man because she snored and Boog didn’t. Fair enough! These are the things I was talking about earlier in the story when I said people do crazy things and I have to force myself to act normal. I sat on his couch so that I could fill out his service ticket and immediately felt a large slap on the back of my neck. It was Boog..apparently I was in his favorite seat said the customer. Not wanting to cause a rift in the family structure I relocated to the kitchen table where the gentleman’s wife sat. Awkward! I finally started small talk and the awkwardness went away until I presented the bill. The only response I got was from the man who informed me that they didn’t have any money. Now I’ve been in this situation before and there are ways that I can tell if the customer is really unable to pay or if they are counting on me to just give up and say “oh well that’s ok”. I could tell that they really didn’t have money. I pieced it all together in my mind instantly. Out of desperation this man was very vague with me over the phone because he knew that if I had more details I would have been able to give him a price over the phone and I would have never made it to his property to begin with. Very cleaver indeed! I wasn’t so mad anymore because if I were in his shoes I would do anything to save my beloved family pet. He said, “I can pay you in tomatoes”. I thought to myself, “I don’t have any tomatoes, I like tomatoes..what the hell!” At this point leaving with a sack of tomatoes and drinking a glass of his wife’s crunchy undissolved sugary ice tea was better than no tomatoes and no crunchy undissolved sugary ice tea. He then emerged from this strange closet/torture room located behind his kitchen with a huge box of red tomatoes from his garden. It was actually one of the few times I felt like I had actually helped some very good people who appreciated me. They couldn’t pay me in money but they gave me a box of the best tomatoes I have ever had. Boog sure did look happy sitting on his favorite seat in the house!