Those Pesky Unintended Consequences

Are you SURE you want to do that?

© 2015 Beth Terry Image of Banyan in Hawaii

Unintended Consequences!

We have all done it: made a decision to solve one problem, only to discover we have created three more problems with our solution. My lonely little ficus tree looked sickly and gray in the corner of my office in Hawaii. “Why not plant that outside?” I thought to myself. Why not? I discovered a half dozen why not’s!

  • The tree doubled in size the first six months. It loved all that Hawaii sun and rich volcanic soil
  • By the second year, it had quadrupled in size
  • The roots began to wind their way down to our retaining wall
  • Meanwhile my neighbor Lefty, an avid orchid grower, was dealing with the shade from this monster tree and his orchids were suffering. He was not happy with the unintended consequences of my poorly-thought-out idea…
  • I suddenly had the awful task of trying to end this tree’s reign of terror over our back yard. It looked impossible and I didn’t have any idea or any tools to commit Ficus-side.

Up until the tree incident, I enjoyed a lovely friendship with the neighbors on both sides. Not so much anymore. I told Lefty I’d bring in a tree expert when I returned from my trip.

Lefty had other ideas. His wife told me he hid in the garage and watched me drive off to the airport. As soon as my car was out of sight, he was on the job. He sawed and hacked and reduced that monster tree into submission. When he had most of the tree carcass in his truck, he drilled into the roots and poured some kind of powder, then lit it on fire.

When I returned from my trip the only visible evidence that a tree had stood there was my rapidly degrading retaining wall and a patch of new grass. The contractor I hired to shore up the wall had to pull it down piece by piece while sawing at the roots pushing from the inside. The heavy machinery tore up my lawn and destroyed part of my driveway.

The costs of this “great idea?”

  • Office Ficus Tree: $35
  • Tree hole digger: $45
  • Special composted tree dirt to fill in the hole: $7
  • Contractor to dig out roots and shore up wall: $3,500
  • Contractor to fix driveway: $1,000
  • Dinner at famous Sushi restaurant for neighbors for mea culpa: $375
Lesson learned…

When you have a “great idea” – ASK people who may know something you don’t! Ask yourself what the desired end result is. Figure out if the cost of doing it (and UNDOING it!) are worth it. And maybe just sit on the idea for a few days and revisit it when your brain cells are functioning better. Not all ideas are great. Not everything needs an action plan. And some things are better off sitting in the corner of your office looking lonely instead of being fed superfood and turning into a monster tree practically over night!!

Happy Thinking!

Beth Terry

© 2015 Beth Terry • All Rights Reserved

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