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:
The crew was loading up the truck after finishing a yard. As the other guys climbed into the cab, Crew Leader Carl and I stood on the sidewalk in front of the house, admiring our work.
“You know,” Carl said, taking a deep drag from his cigarette, “I love this job. I really do. I always get such a tremendous sense of accomplishment after sprucing up a yard. We showed up to find the lawn overgrown, with weeds choking the planters and garbage caught in the shrubs. By working together as a cohesive team, we transformed the place from an untidy scrapheap into a verdant paradise.”
He waved his arm. “I mean, look at it. Thanks to us, the homeowners now have this pristine sanctuary in which to seek refuge from the stress of daily life. Tonight after dinner, they can sit outside with a cup of coffee and admire the twilight sky. The wind will rustle through the tree branches above, and off in the distance the crickets will chorus, providing a relaxing atmosphere lit only by the moon and stars.”
He took another long drag from his cigarette and let it out slowly. “Humans are meant to be in nature,” he said, his eyes misting as he gazed into the distance. “We’re meant to be free and roaming; not caged in cubicles like corporate prisoners. And you and I, we’re advocates of nature. We not only beautify people’s yards; we purify their spirits. By enhancing the yards that surround their homes, we’re helping people to find peace and tranquility. We’re not only giving them a space to meditate – we’re giving them a refuge in which to rediscover their souls.”
He wiped a tear from his eye. “We create beauty – that’s what we do. We create beauty.”
As I climbed into the truck, Carl remained outside. I noticed him wipe a tear as he looked at the yard, savoring all the beauty that we’d helped sculpt from the once-messy yard.
Then he climbed into the cab, sliding behind the wheel. Starting the engine, he took one final drag from his cigarette before flicking it out the window.
It landed on the front lawn just as we were pulling away.