During the summer before I started college, I worked as a laborer for a lawn-cutting service. There were five guys on the crew — including me — and my boss was a guy named Crew Leader Carl. He had hair down to his shoulders and always had a cigarette sticking out the side of his mouth.
This is a story from one of my many lawn-cutting crew adventures:
It was a chilly summer morning. We were all at the shop, loading the truck with our mowers and tools.
As I climbed into the backseat, Benito, the owner, grabbed my wrist and yanked me back out.
“You’re not working with them today!” he said. “I need you to do a job with Bryce!”
“What kind of a job?” I asked, as the maintenance truck took off without me, spewing dust and gravel.
“What kind of a job?” Benito repeated. “You all the time questions! It’s a job where I tell you what to do and you just do it! Understand?”
“I appreciate your sharing the big-picture vision,” I said. “Thank you.”
“Load a truck with shovels and rakes, and then see me in the office,” Benito said, stomping away. “I’ll give you the address.”
“How about I just ride with Bryce?” I asked.
“Because he’s already at the jobsite! You and your endless questions!”
“So we’re driving two separate vehicles? This company’s not exactly a paragon of efficiency, Boss.”
Benito pointed at me. “Take a truck and load it with tools! I’ll be in the office.”
“How do I know what truck to take?” I asked.
“Per carita! Never-ending questions! Talk to Shoemaker. He’s the shop superintendent.”
So I approached Shoemaker, a short, balding guy with a long goatee. “Benito wants me to take one of the trucks.”
“Which one you want?” he asked.
I shrugged. “I don’t know. How about the ’84 Ford?”
“That one’s been stalling at stoplights.”
“OK,” I said. “How about the ’79 Ford?”
“Nah. The brakes is worn.”
“The ’77 flatbed?”
“Nope. Transmission’s busted.”
I glared at him. “The ’68 Chevy dumptruck?”
“Clutch is out.”
“Well,” I said, “I need something reliable. I’ll just take the 2000 Isuzu Hombre, then.”
“That one … wait.” Shoemaker scratched his chin. “We don’t have an Isuzu Hombre.”
“I know,” I said, twirling my keychain on my finger and walking away. “It’s mine.”