We all know listening and hearing are two basically very different things. Hearing is what you do when, as you are going out the back door somebody yells for you to please pick up some things at the grocery store while you’re out. Pretty basic, you don’t have to engage your whole being to get that message. It’s not as if you and someone are trying to sort out a discrepancy or the issue of whether or not to use white lights or multi-colored ones on the tree. That can have some meaning behind it.

No, this is something I have become mildly aware of the past couple of years. This summer I have been trying to get somebody to come take down a dead tree in my front yard. One of my neighbors told me to leave it alone, it would leaf out. Well, she moved and this tree is still dead. No leaves. I had no idea finding someone to take care of this would be so hard. Is there a glut of dead trees? Has some beetle or borer attacked or Dutch elm disease is making a come-back? Well, this week finally I got a company to call back and they said they’d be here Saturday. That same day, around 9:20 p.m. I got a call again and I thought the guy said the same name. Listen, at about 8:30 p.m. most days I start to really fade. By 9 I’m not much use, so I thought well, maybe he got his notes mixed up or something. So he said he’d be by Saturday, he’d call first.

Saturday came. I’d gotten everything done by Friday so I would be sure to be home. By 2:00 in the afternoon nothing happened. Just about to give up, the phone rang at 3. Sounded for all the world like the same one who woke me out of a sound sleep, said he’d be by to look at the tree in 15 minutes and, sure enough, he was. He named a price, said he’d take care of it in the coming week, I didn’t have to be home, then he left.

Well, about 3 hours later I got another call. Sounded just like the first call, sounded like the same name, everything. Said he’d be by in a few minutes. I said I’d thought he’d told me later in the week. He said no, he was working Saturdays and Sundays. So I said I hated for him to come all the way back out here after he’d just been this afternoon. Silence. No, he hadn’t been. I asked if it was the company I thought it was, he said no, did I already give the job to someone else? I said yes, he asked how much, I told him and he said it sounded a fair price. Then we said good-bye after my profuse apologies, the strange error of mis-hearing the names dawning on me. I even checked my caller-i.d. to note the different numbers.

It’s weird getting older. But at least somebody is coming to take the dead tree away.