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You Break It, You… Don’t Write A Letter About It, Dummy

, , , , , | Related | September 11, 2021

My uncle has a large plot of land that is mostly left wild because he struggles to keep it maintained. I go over a few times a year to help out.

Me: “That fence in the corner is broken again.”

Uncle: “Well, you did only bodge it back together.”

Me: “No, remember, I was going to do a temporary fix. But then I found some more wood so I did it properly.”

Uncle: “Weird. Could you fix it again and see if you can reinforce it somehow?”

Me: “I can have a look, but you should really consider planting those thorny plants I suggested.”

Uncle: “I doubt anyone is breaking it on purpose; there’s nothing there. It’s a dead end. Just some bad luck.”

Me: “Okay, but buy some plants anyway.”

I fix the fence and I do a good job of it. No way can anyone accidentally break it this time. My uncle buys the plants and, to be fair to him, he actually gets some large mature ones. 

I don’t plant them right near the fence, in case someone were to cut them back. Instead, I put them just out of sight. Even with gloves and a thick jacket, I’m covered in scratches.

It takes me all day, but I get it done. I finish the day by nailing a no entry/no public access sign to the fence and call it quits.

It’s a few months until I go back, and my uncle is standing there with a smile on his face.

Uncle: “You will never guess what happened.”

Me: “What?”

Uncle: “The fence is broken again; someone must have taken a sledgehammer to it.”

Me: “Why are you smiling, then?”

Uncle: “Because they are trying to sue me for it!”

Me: “That still doesn’t explain the smile.”

He hands me the letter. In it, they admit to damaging the fence all three times, and they make note of the sign and not asking for access. They incorrectly ramble on about public access. The wording is frantic and seems to frame the writer as some sort of hero of the people. It ends with a threat of legal action and the name of a solicitor.

Uncle: “[Solicitor] already called me, and I have another phone call this afternoon. I can’t wait to go over the details with him.”

The phone call went ahead. It didn’t take long for the solicitor to understand that their client had not only broken the law but had admitted it, too. Eventually — and after several legal threats — they had to pay for all the damages, my time, and the plants for the fence. We didn’t get any more break-ins after that.

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