Scott, the tree-trimmer from Jersey

So I’ve talked a fair amount about all the interesting people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting over the course of my travels, but as of yet I’ve mentioned exactly none of them.  Tucked away in the dark and dusty corners of my noodle, there are several encounters with several people whose stories I’d love to share.  And tonight, I met another.  Rather than waiting for a nice, relaxing opportunity to write about him, I’m just gonna stay up late, write about him now, and then regret the shit out of it tomorrow…

So I was lying in bed drinking a delicious, ice-cold Newcastle and chatting with a good college friend of mine, a Mr. James Fiebeger, about, predictably enough, ways to promote this here blog.  I decided to head out front of the hotel to smoke.  While I was sitting there, I had the pleasure of meeting Scott, a tree-trimmer from New Jersey (hey, that’s the title of this post, weird…). 

Scott and I shared a few beers, smoked a few cigarettes, and told each other the stories of how we ended up here; sitting on the curb outside the Comfort Inn in southwestern Louisville, Kentucky.  You’ve already heard about my story, but certainly not his.  He grew up in Jersey, and after a stint in rehab, for what he didn’t mention, he met a girl on the internet that lived in Indiana.  He moved there to be with her, they had a kid together, and have since split.  (An aside: I’m gonna recount our conversation straight up, there were parts of his story I thought were bullshit, and parts I could tell were completely true, but I’ll tell you what he told me, and you can make whatever decisions and judgements you’d like).  Scott’s been climbing trees (as he put it) for 15 years now, and was “one of the top three tree-climbers in Indiana.”  He followed work to Louisville, and does all he can to make money to support his son.  He visits him twice a month, work permitting, and supports his ex-wife financially as best he can. 

Last year, on mother’s day, Scott took a 30 foot fall out of a tree in which he was working.  He hit his arm on the roof of the nearby house on the way down and broke it in twelve places (his arm, not the house, that would be hard).  When he hit the ground his leg broke in eight places.  Ok, I said I’d be impartial, but I totally thought this was bullshit, untill he showed me the E.R. pictures on his phone and the correlating scars.  He was pretty torn up.  Morphine wasn’t enough, and he was on some painkiller that was even stronger (I didn’t know such a medication existed, and I’m not ashamed to say I’m damn happy about that).  The doctors couldn’t decide whether or not to amputate, and were arguing about it when his co-worker showed up at the E.R. and explained that Scott climbed trees for a living, so removing his leg would be removing his livelihood.  They consented to insert titanium rods in his right leg and left arm and bolted all the bone fragments to the rods.  They warned of infection, saying that if it struck, it would all but require amputation for his survival. He came out of it ok, and is back at the tree-trimming business he clearly loves. 

Now, Scott was uninsured at the time of the accident.  His doctors told him he’d need months of physical therapy to keep his muscles from weakening, and without it he would eventually lose the ability to move his leg.  They also stated it would be over a year before he would walk unassisted again.  He went back to Jersey to stay with his parents and blew through his savings paying his child support.  Without insurance, the medical bills and his disability-induced unemployment meant he couldn’t afford the physical therapy sessions recommended to him.  Instead, he spent four hours a day walking up and down his parents’ driveway assisted by walkers and canes.  After four months he was able to climb his first tree, and returned to Kentucky for work, and is once again trimming trees and supporting his son. 

This was a cool story to hear, and dude was a good guy to chat with.  It was quite clear that all else aside, he cared deeply for his son, and he knew that without his leg he couldn’t provide for the child or the child’s mother.  I got the impression (aided by his pictures) that he wasn’t shitting me with his tales.  You can make your own calls about it, but from my perspective, it was a fun 45 minutes chatting with the guy.  And to think, if it wasn’t for a nicotine craving, I’d never have met him…  Remarkable…


Filed under Oh, The People You'll Meet...

3 responses to “Scott, the tree-trimmer from Jersey

  1. Colleen

    Hey Cuz, Love what you’re doing with the blog. This whole profile of a random person you meet on your travels thing could definitely become a regular feature. Fascinating. Almost makes me wish I was still smoking– you do meet more interesting people when you have to step outside for a cancer stick.

  2. phil candiliere

    That was interesting and very tragic. It certainly shows what the human spirit is capable of doing. To be able to rehab himself through perserverence and dedication is an amazing fete.

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