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I accidentally put my number on HomeAdvisor and now I perish
The phone. It rings. It rings!
A fallen tree inside a fool's soul.
A fallen tree inside a fool's soul. [ Tampa Bay Times (2012) ]
Published Jan. 19

The following first appeared in Stephinitely, a weekly newsletter from columnist Stephanie Hayes featuring a bonus column and behind-the-scenes chatter. To get it in your inbox every Monday, subscribe here.

A Fool’s Journey, by William Shakespeare’s lesser cousin, Phil Shakespeare:

The fool notices a dead tree in the yard, all black and gnarled. Branches are falling into the street, squirrels screaming. The tree must come out.

The fool knows it’s time to get estimates for tree removal, one of the least fun ways to spend money outside of dental work and bail.

The fool Googles “tree removal near me.”

The fool discovers a website for what seems like a small, family-owned company in her area. Even better, it has a handy little box to request an estimate. The fool loves that kind of convenience, for she is a fool!

The fool does not stop to question anything. The fool has not learned any lessons over a lifetime of lessons. Not one little lesson in her little lesson-free life.

Related: HGTV is lies: Tales from pandemic home renovation

The fool puts her contact information into the form.

The fool immediately gets an auto-reply saying sorry, the small, local company cannot do the job, but they are checking with some of their friends. Friends? Who, the fool wonders? Ross and Rachel?

The fool panics. The fool is no longer just a fool. She is a clown. She is the Joker, the Joaquin Phoenix one.

The clown immediately receives an email that reads, “Thanks for using HomeAdvisor! Here are the pros we matched to your tree removal project.”

The clown did not mean to use HomeAdvisor! The clown has been tricked! The clown wanted to “do her own research,” but not in the bad way!

The clown’s phone immediately starts ringing, and it does not stop for the rest of the bedeviled day, filling with voicemail after voicemail from tree removal people, each hungrier to remove her twisted tree, their tongues lashing. They do not know that the true dead timber now resides within the clown’s very soul.

The clown, overwhelmed, shuts down completely and doesn’t answer a single call. Although these service providers will give her what she seeks, which is a quote, she is the emotional equivalent of Don Draper in Season 6. There’s just nothing there.

The clown has one move left, which is to tweet that she is a clown. Maybe someone will see it. Maybe no one. It doesn’t matter. She’s a prisoner of someone named Angie, or maybe it’s Angi, or maybe it’s Powered By Angi, she is not sure.

The clown’s tweet, against all odds, reaches a friend who also has dead trees. He sends along a phone number for the kind of tree guy who is not on HomeAdvisor. The kind of tree guy who has no website, no online forms, who may be best reached by flare gun, actually. The kind of tree guy who is not expecting her call, but has a chainsaw, and is willing to use it.

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The clown sheds a tear. She will call. First, she gazes once more upon the ashen, twisted limbs. The phone chimes again, and again, and again.

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