Trees owe me, big time

I volunteer for an organization that plants trees in the community and promotes the importance of planting trees for environmental and human health.

Before you go thinking I’m a charitable hippie dippie do-gooder, know that I joined this particular organization because I could contribute to society (ok, ok, I mean pad the ol’ resume) without really engaging with the community. Trees don’t talk to you.

Besides planting trees on some weekends, my duties also include standing at a booth and giving away seedling trees to the public at local events. This past weekend, I was the lone volunteer at the booth during a downtown street festival because the other volunteer dropped out last-minute. The nature of this particular event brought a lot of, um, colourful characters together. It’s a downtown street festival. In case those words don’t paint enough of a picture for you, know that the Rent soundtrack was played over loud speakers on repeat the entire time. I mean, c’mon! How about some subtlety as we stick it to the bourgeoisie?!

I should know better than to voluntarily put myself in a situation where I’m just asking for strangers to talk to me. Here are some of the memorable things said to me as I smiled and nodded and clutched the donation box:

.

A seemingly normal looking man (can never trust those guys):

“No, thanks. I can’t take a tree. I tend to kill things. I had to throw away the dehydrated skeleton of a blue jay this morning.”

Just smile and nod.

.

A man with a large moustache wearing cut-off jean shorts (to be clear–the man was wearing the jean shorts, not the large moustache he was with):

“Yup, I once gave a tree like this as a gift to my sister-in-law and her husband for their wedding. They planted the tree and it’s about 20 years later and now it’s a nice big tree.”

Me: “Awwww, that’s nice!”

“Ya, well the bastard cheated on her and now they’re divorced.”

Just smile and nod.

.

A dishevelled-looking man who excitedly came up to the booth:

“Can I have a tree?”

Me: “Of course you can! We’re giving away one per household.”

“I don’t have a house. Can I go plant it down by the river?”

Just smile and nod.

.

Another dishevelled-looking man who had taken a tree earlier in the day:

“Look! I took the tree from you, and then I went to the library and opened the bible. This is the page I opened to!”

(He proudly hands me a photocopied page from the bible. I skim it and see the word “tree” near the top)

Me: “Wow! What a coincidence! It must be a sign.”

(His eyes light up) “What kind of a sign?”

Shit. “Uhhhh, the good kind!”

Just smile and nod, prophet.

.

A young boy whose parents were looking at the booth next to mine:

(He grabs the donation box, flips it upside down and starts shaking it)

Me: “No, no! You shouldn’t do that!” (I gently take it away from him, stink-eying the oblivious parents)

(He stamps his feet) “BUT I WANT THAT MONEY! HOW ELSE AM I ASPOSED TO GET IT?!”

“This money has been donated to charity. You can’t take this money.”

“That’s stupid. I want that money!”

“Want a tree tattoo?”

“No.”

Just smile and nod.

.

A male teenager with really red eyes giggling and holding a balloon (again, the teen was giggling and holding the balloon, not the red eyes. Though, that’s not how he might have seen it):

“How do you plant a tree?”

Me: “Well, there are planting instructions on this card here, but basically, you’ll make a hole double the size of this container…”

(He pulls the tree out of the container, spilling dirt all over the table) “I’ll take the tree out like this?”

“Well, yes, but best to do it next to where you’re going to plant it.”

“Then you water it?”

“Yup!”

“I’d like to water you.”

Just smile and nod. No wait. Don’t do that.

theVERYsinglegirl

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