So I got my ass a new job, and it’s friggin hard as hell. I can’t complain (even though I’m about to do just that) because I needed a job really bad, but let me go ahead and say that no matter how hard you think landscaping is, it’s about ten times harder. When you boil it down, I get paid just over minimum wage to grab a shovel and move dirt around for ten hours a day at a break neck slave speed. I’ve been working at this new job for about a month, and already I’ve lost fifteen pounds. And that’s not with a diet either, that’s pure-ass-hell-damn elbow grease. My diet consists of pizzas and dollar menu items from McDonalds, with the occasional gas station item. Do you have any idea how hard you have to work to lose fifteen pounds when your lunch is four McChicken sammiches, some beef jerky, and a two liter of Mountain Dew? My feet were covered with eleven (yes I counted them) blisters that still haven’t healed up yet after a friggin month of work. My feet look like a Vietnamese POW after a death march. And don’t even get me started on how many cuts I get. Just on the side of my left arm facing my head I can count twelve cuts. My farmers tan is so crucial I look like I’m wearing black face. And to top it off I think I’ve developed tendonitis because about half the time I loose all feeling between my fingers and my armpits.
But all in all it’s actually a nice job. I get to work with my hands, which I love. I get to be dirty all day, which I love. I get to cuss and sweat and bleed and tell dirty jokes. I’m re-learning spanish, picking up on the words and phrases I used to know back when I was living with Mexicans all week. Most of all I get to work with some really amazing people. I absolutely love blue collar people. We are bat shit crazy, and rough around the edges, but the most character filled, life loving, live in the moment people you will ever meet.
My direct boss, Tim, is a guy I’ve been friends with for about a decade. We go back to high school together, and we’ve done a lot of wild stuff. Now Tim is a funny guy, but before you even get to know him he’s just a funny looking guy. He’s skinny as a crack head, always has been. He might weigh 130 soaking wet. He’s got long curly heir that probably hasn’t seen a brush for years. And to top it all off he’s missing one of his front teeth. So anyone with a keen eye can pretty much size him up from a distance and know you’re dealing with a bit of a character. Now Tim isn’t exactly … how can I put this delicately … Tim and I don’t see eye to eye on a lot of issues. We argue all the time, on just about every subject. Tim is kind of backwards on a lot of his views. He doesn’t like gay people. He’s very 40′s with his approach to gender roles. His actual reason for believing the Bible is true is because he want’s it to be true. And he spends most of his driving time soaking up the opinion of the day from Rush or Beck or Hannity.
Actually I really enjoy being around a stubborn, opinionated jack ass like Tim because it helps me solidify my own views. For a long time I couldn’t figure out why people like me and people like Tim disagree on such basic, fundamental issues. Take health care for instance. Me and Tim both want a similar end result, that everyone has access to health care. But we have such totally opposing ideas on how that should be put into place. And it just bugged me and bugged me until one day I had a bit of an epiphany. I realized that conservatives like Tim basically believe (erroneously) that the government got it right with our original constitution and that they shouldn’t do anything extra, while I believe that the constitution was a good start, but the government should change and grow as the world changes and grows. And so when I have to argue with Tim about seemingly obvious points, like for instance that only white property owning males could vote until they fixed that clearly unfair part of the constitution, it helps remind me of why I believe the things I do.
My boss one up from Tim is a yankee named Carl, who is hands down one of the wildest and craziest people I have ever met in my life. First of all he looks about ten years younger than he really is. He’s thirty eight and he’s engaged to a twenty four year old. So of course me and Tim give him pure shit for that. Asking whether she calls him daddy or grandpa in the sack, and suggesting that he’s on the edge of sterility. And it’s so funny because he’s so easy to get riled up. Even under perfect conditions he’s an easily agitated person, and he’s so hyper and his fuse is so short that it’s friggin hilarious to get him pissed off and just watch. He’ll get pissed off and just start randomly picking racial slurs to call people before he even knows what they are.
Somebody hit him with a car the other week, ran their mirror into his back pack leaf blower, and it spun him around. So he’s super pissed off, packs up and I end up in the same truck as him. He’s getting calls non stop, answering the phone screaming, and of course I can only hear half the conversation, but it’s hilarious. (Phone rings) “Holy shit if you see any n*****s on the way to the fucking park hit them with your fucking car! …. Some god damned spook just hit me with a car, fuckin bullshit, cause we’re working in the middle of coon town and none of these crack head mother fuckers can drive for shit! … (at car behind us) GET OFF MY FUCKING ASS YOU NO DRIVING SAND N****R! I FUCKING HATE IT WHEN PEOPLE RIDE MY ASS. … No I’m bringing my god damned pistol tomorrow and the first fucker who drives too close to me is getting a lead sammich. (Now driving no more than two feet behind an SUV) Hold on my mom is texting me. … What the fuck Mom! Look at this god damn shit! (hands me phone which has a picture of a cock and balls with a shamrock saying happy saint Patrick’s day) (calls his mom) What the hell is wrong with you, did you fall off the short bus or what? … Why would you think I would find a picture of a dick and balls entertaining? … Why don’t you go find me a picture of some hot chick showing her pussy?! …. I DON’T WANT TO LOOK AT A DICK AND BALLS! … Ok mom, I love you too, see you later.”
So that’s pretty much all day every day with Carl. If he’s not pissed off he’s just saying something totally off the wall. I believe he described his night thusly: “I was so god damned tired. Went home. Ate two bowls of cereal, and tried to knock the bottom off a pregnant lady.”
Of course, most of the labor is Mexican guys, and those guys always come with the crazy. One of our more experienced workers is named Compost. Seriously, a Mexican working in landscaping named Compost. I don’t think he understands the irony. Apparently the Mexicans like me. They told me I’m part Mexican because I work so hard, and they believe if I could drive I would make supervisor in a few months, which makes me feel good about myself and also pisses me off knowing that I can’t drive. But Mexicans are always easy to get along with. All you have to do is make sure you work as hard as they work, and try to learn a little Spanish so you can converse while you work.
The other notable weird people are the owners, who are a mix of Japanese and southern. So you have a couple of good old boys who are as anal retentive as a Tokyo accountant. It can be frustrating at times, but they are good at what they do.
And of course, like any blue collar job I get to play with all kinds of specialized power tools and heavy equipment. I get to use tillers and chainsaws and stump grinders and the lot. But what I’m most excited about is learning how to use the Bobcat and the excavator. They haven’t let me get on either one of them yet, but it’s only a matter of time before I get the chance, and I am stoked. I mean every boy grows up dreaming about playing with these kinds of machines, but so many people never get the chance. I think that’s what I am most excited about with this job. It’s all worth it. I don’t mind towing around explosives and getting my arms shredded and getting bit up by ticks and chiggers, as long as I get a chance to dig a hole with a back hoe.
And to close out this post I have a PSA. If you’re towing mulch covered in burlap next to the same chemicals that were used to blow up the Oklahoma City building, don’t throw your cigarette butt’s out the window while you’re driving down the freeway. There’s a good chance you will set it all on fire and unless you have really cool bosses who cover your ass you will probably lose your job.