Tyler Vendetti
May 27, 2012 7:00 am

Last summer, I made the mistake of believing that I could handle plant-sitting. I had been informed by the client (who I shall refer to as One Who Didn’t Know What She Was Getting Me Into, or OWDKWSWGMI from now on) that her and her family were going away for two weeks and needed someone to water her indoor and outdoor plants while they were out. I would have to come every other day for 30 minutes and would be compensated for my actions. After justifying getting paid to water plants, I gladly accepted the position and prepared to make the easiest $70 of my life. Until, of course, my brain stepped in and decided I was not ready to have common sense bestowed upon me just yet. Instead, my brain decided to teach me how to discard normalcy and screw up plant-sitting in 6 simple steps which I shall now share with all of you, in case anyone wanted to do the same.

Step 1: Lock every door once you’re inside the house

Maybe I’ve seen too many scary movies, but the prospect of being home alone, even for 10 minutes, still causes me to constantly construct potential escape routes and overreact to every unknown noise. So when I entered the abandoned house that first summer afternoon, I made sure to quickly lock the front door behind me. (If you’re thinking of screwing up plant-sitting in the near future, make sure to use both the built-in lock and the chain to remove any possibility of successfully re-entering the premises later.) Then, to be extra careful, I proceeded to lock all the other side doors except for one, which I would use to go outside to water the outdoor plants. Remember: one unlocked door is all you need. No back-up doors. That’s cheating.

Step 2: Exit the house, leaving the keys inside

You know why MacGyver is cool? He doesn’t need simple tools like keys to get things done. You want to be like MacGyver, don’t you? If so, I’ve got a solution: when you start plant-sitting and you’ve locked every door but one, make sure to leave the keys to the house on the kitchen counter on your way out because when you leave through that one unlocked door and it automatically locks behind you, you’ll be glad you didn’t have that key to help you get back inside. Trust me. That panicky feeling? That’s the feeling of success.

Step 3: Suspiciously try to open every window without looking suspicious

Okay, so at this point, you’ve locked yourself out of the house without a key. First, let me say congratulations on making it this far. You’ve reached a whole new level of awesome. The next step is to suspiciously fiddle with every locked window to ensure that they are all locked. Bonus points if the first-floor windows have bars over them like the ones I encountered.

Step 4: Do not call the owners

Minor detail: Before completing step 1, I called OWDKWSWGMI to inform her that I was at the house with the key and everything was fine. Then I hung up and locked myself out 5 minutes later. I could not call her back. Perhaps she did have an extra key hidden and all I had to do was ask where it was but that would involve telling her why I needed it, which was not an option. Future plant-sitters, if you want to screw up plant-sitting just as effectively, you must strictly adhere to this rule.

Step 5: Find a stray ladder next to an open window, call for backup

If I have learned anything from this experience, it is that if there is an open window, it will be on the second floor. In my case, there was also a heavy ladder strategically hidden in a pile of leaves near the open window that was just long enough to reach the second story. Now, if you want to reach a whole new realm of social ineptitude, attempt to raise the metal ladder alone, drop it on yourself, then call a parent to come help you lift it (let’s pretend I didn’t learn this from experience). Again, do not call the owners. The people who should be most informed about your problems should be the last to know.

Step 6: Make sure there are people around

If you want to go above and beyond, figure out exactly when the mailman is going to drive by and start propping up the ladder around the same time, in plain sight. While you’re at it, you might as well wait for all of the neighbors to come home too. You wouldn’t want to go through all this trouble without collecting a handful of witnesses that could inform OWDKWSWGMI about the incident later, would you?

Mrs. OWDKWSWGMI, if you’re reading this, just know that after making it inside the house and retrieving the key, I erred on the side of caution for the remaining two weeks. I was the best plant-sitter anyone had ever seen. I carried that key on a necklace and drowned those plants with love until they started dying from too much water and I was forced to cut it down to every other day like I was supposed to. And to all those future plant-sitters, be sure to follow this guide word-for-word to ensure proper plant disaster. Perhaps you can even create your own guide and share it below. My next endeavor is pet rock sitting so if anyone has any ideas on how to screw that up, it would be much appreciated.

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