Originally appeared in VioletsFun Photo Journal, issue no. 11 (2001)
As we’ve told you before, we’ve been extremely busy the past year. We just had too much work to do and not enough people to do it. We were having trouble hiring help, which meant that we had to take on more and more ourselves. No matter how much extra work we took on, though, it never seemed to be enough. Given that the basic necessities of eating and sleeping took up at least a small portion of a day, there just weren’t enough hours remaining to do everything that needed to be done.
After having already worked nearly round the clock every day for a few weeks, Olive and I sat working at the rear of the shop. I mentioned to her that I really had to find time to water some of my plants in the “stock room”, a room where we grow all of our show plants, seedling, stock plants for propagation, and the like. “Yeah, yeah”, she said, “you’ve been saying that for the last four days”. Yes, that was true, but this evening would be different. They were going to be watered now. Before, I had a choice but, now, there wasn’t any. I could either water them or let them die. It was then that I realized just how busy we were. It had been four days since their scheduled watering, and these plants still hadn’t been watered. There was always something more important to take care of. Finally, watering those plants had become the most important–I was finally going to water them!
Much like an alcoholic has twelve steps to recovery, these poor plants had to progress through five steps to get watered. Yes, they could have been watered on the first day. At that time, though, one day more would barely make a difference. After all, they weren’t showplants that needed every last detail attended to. At this point it was the difference between perfect and less than perfect. They could wait until tomorrow.
The next day, the should have been watered. No damage had yet been done, and were they to be watered today–it would be our little secret. There were still more pressing needs to be attended to. After all, these weren’t sales plants–their looking good wouldn’t help pay the electricity bill or keep a customer happy. The plants wouldn’t be happy, but once they finally were watered, no one would be the wiser.
By the third day, they had to be watered. At this point, they would either be watered or the suffering would become noticeable–soft leaves, spent blooms, a generally dull, pale, appearance. The more important work still hadn’t been done yet, however. Besides, they were all in a back room, away from public view. If some of them began to wilt a bit, who would know? Granted, a few scars would be left behind even if they were watered now but, after a period of proper care, they would “grow out of it” and look good again. We could be forgiven–hey, we were busy after all!
This was day four. At this point I had to at least try to water them! If I didn’t at least make a serious effort to put their welfare at the top of my list of things to do, there would be a serious price to pay. By now they were wilted–clinging to life. You could almost hear their desperate cries for help….”cough! cough!….gasp…ack!”. it was either water them now, try to resuscitate them, or lose them forever. They were important plants, and we couldn’t afford to lose them. Anyway, if we were to let them die now, we’d have to spend time cleaning up the mess (their corpses) later. At this point, watering them would actuallysave us time.
Yes, the poor plants were finally watered. Had they not been, day five meant “don’t bother to water them”. Watering them then meant watering pots of soil, not plants. At this point, there wouldn’t be any plants to speak of, just pots of dried compost. Let’s rephrase the earlier statement. It’s not the five stages to a watered plant, its four stages. It’s five stages to a dead plant, and we stopped one stage short. Whew! We must really have been busy!