There are approximately 7 million homeowners in the U.S. Like many of
them, I have a lawn problem. My lawn has a few patchy spots, some
bare ground and more than a few weeds.
Meanwhile, many of my neighbors have thick, green, luxurious lawns,
which only serves to highlight my own lawn’s deficiencies. Not only
am I am unwilling to pay (quite a sum) for a lawn service, but my lack
of free time means my casual approach to working on my lawn means that
my front yard is something less than stellar.
Nonetheless, over the past few months, I have been reading all that I
can about lawn care and specifically organic lawn care, in the hopes
that I can find the time, knowledge and perseverance to rejuvenate my
lawn this year.
As I read both online and pre-Internet (books), I have found a
resource that is mentioned over and over again for gardens and lawn
care. It turns out that practically every county in the United States
has something called a Cooperative Extension. Here is the direct
quote from the USDA website….
“These offices are staffed by one or more experts who provide useful,
practical, and research-based information to agricultural producers,
small business owners, youth, consumers, and others in rural areas and
communities of all sizes.”
A few minutes more online and I found the local Extension Office which
was just a few minutes from my office. Great! I had found a local
One day, I drove over to the Extension Office to ask for help with my
lawn. Like a good consumer / customer, I had done extensive reading
and preparation and when I walked in the door, I knew that I probably
should get a soil test done (which practically every site on the
Internet as well as my pre-Internet resource – my books, stated my
local Extension Office could do) and also wanted to talk to someone
about the patchy spots on my lawn and how to improve the soil.
As I stepped up to the counter, the woman behind it looked up at me
with a very perturbed look on her face and simply said, “What?”
I swallowed my comeback to her and asked her about soil testing. She
bluntly replied that they didn’t do that, they never had and that I
could have a list of places that would do it for a fee. All in one
Keeping my second comment in check, I accepted the list of companies
that would test my lawn’s soil and asked if there was someone I could
at least talk to about my lawn. She replied that there were two
Master Gardeners on staff that I could talk to.
“Aha!” I thought, “I have made it past the doorkeeper and am about to
talk to the person who knows about lawns. A Master Gardener has to
know about anything green.” After all, Master Gardeners must be the
Jedi Knights of the Plant and Garden World.
I was brought back to earth by the arrival of the Master Gardener and
we engaged in a very brief conversation. Unfortunately, the pattern
of the conversation was that each of my questions about lawn care was
met with the answer of ‘you can find everything you need online at the
local University’s Agricultural Department’s website.
I would ask a question, and she would reply with the same answer – go
look on the website.
Question – go to the website.
Repeat for 5 minutes.
As I left the building and drove back to work, shaking my head in
disgust, I wondered how this experience paralleled much of life –
especially with regards to customers, store employees and customer
In nearly every store and in most of the customer interactions, the
person providing the good or service knows more than the customer. We
may know a little more, or in some cases, we may be ‘Master Gardeners’
in our respective professions. As Jedi Knights of computer support,
or retail sales, or food service, we can either share our knowledge,
or we can turn our customers away with a standard (although perhaps
So, my challenge to you, the reader, is two-fold:
1 – What are you a Jedi Knight of?
2 – Are you addressing your customer’s problems or turning them away?
Thanks for reading,