Monday, April 9, 2007

Good Neighbor = Green Lawn???

The dark side of fastidiousness reared its ugly head today, in a new ad campaign from Lawn Doctor (a nationwide USA lawn service). It is an atrocious, insulting, condescending, obnoxious ad campaign based on the idea that if your lawn isn't bright green, weed-free, and being cared for by Lawn Doctor, you are a bad neighbor

In the radio ad that I heard while driving this morning, the situation is this:

- A homeowner receives a visit from her ARC**

- They gently chastise her for having weeds in her lawn and she is heartily ashamed of her grievous deed

- They inform her that they have taken it upon themselves to schedule a visit by Lawn Doctor and she is delighted!

- They then trot off to the house next door to do something with the "ugly sectional" on the porch.

And then, if you go to the Lawn Doctor website, at least currently, you'll also see a big ad that says "How to be a Good Neighbor" and the answer (of course) is to refer your other neighbors to Lawn Doctor!

Mere words can barely describe how I'd feel about my neighbors if they sent a Lawn Doctor representative to my house, but I can tell you that "Good Neighbor" would not be among these words. Personally, I think I'm a better neighbor by NOT treating my lawn because I'd rather have neighbors who host crab-bakes rather than show off their weed-free lawns. [If you're not following this logic, the concept is that too many nutrients are flooding our bays and clouding up the water with algae blooms, thus killing off the grasses that bay crabs need to survive. Lawn services play a role in this; not as big a role as agriculture, but one could argue that we need corn more than we need weed-free lawns. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation and others can tell you all about this.]

Please note: It's ok to be Nitpicky as long as you respect the right of others to NOT be so. What is that saying ... " An it harm none, do as you will"? Here in the United States -- the self-proclaimed champions of personal freedom and liberty -- you'd think we'd be more conscious of this. But we really aren't. A lot of people don't "get" the concept that freedom means allowing people to do what they want, even if you yourself don't agree with their choices. When you start imposing your opinions on everyone else, you can no longer call it freedom

So, bottomline, I'm infuriated by Lawn Doctor's advertisement. But it's a free country, so they can make the ad that they want. But woe to my neighbor who shows up with a green brochure in her hand ...

** Footnote: I loath Architectural Review Committees (ARCs). They are typically filled with people who epitomize the dark-side of Nitpicky. They want things a certain way and join the ARC to impose their subjective opinions on others in the community in order to create their own personal version of a Stepford Utopia. I currently live within a community that sports both a Home Owners Association and an ARC and it has been a real learning experience. I will NEVER buy another home that falls within the jurisdiction of an ARC. I'd say more, but I'm sure that I'll have an opportunity soon. We typically have at least one run-in with our ARC each year that narrowly misses litigation.

BTW: If you are on an ARC and are saying "Wait! I'm not like that", then I invite you to take a look at the notices you are sending out. If you haven't sent any notices in the past year, or the notice was something like "Hi, two of your windows are broken and your roof is caving in; could you please fix this?", then you are correct to say that you are not the type of ARC I am talking about. But if your notices are something to the effect of "You have 14 days to powerwash your driveway because we measured a millimeter of dirt on it, plus 3 of your bricks are mildewed and must be clean, and the stone gargoyle statue in your back yard is visible through the fence and does not blend well with the harmonious nature of our colonial-style community," then you ARE the what I am talking about.

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