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Typical Day

There are perhaps too many typical days for Moe Dirt of Green Acres Landscape Maintenance. He gets up and out early enough to be at the yard by 6:30am. After loading the extra tools he needs for the day into his already loaded white F250 with dark green logos on the doors, and checking in with his manager, he is on his way with his crew of two by 7:00. The day has just begun and it is already getting monotonous. Being ignored by his coworkers who do not speak English too well only adds to the tedium.

The first job is at that flashy Chevrolet dealership out on the Boulevard. There is not much landscape, but plenty of pavement that needs to be blown clear of whatever leaves and litter that blew in since they were there a week ago. The leaves here "run deep." The problem is that blowers, although effective for blowing debris away, also stir up a lot of dust, which is unacceptable where so many new cars need to be kept clean. Blowing is tedious with the blowers turned way down, but eventually the job gets done.

This blows.

Just as Moe is wondering how this sort of work is related to actual "gardening," the customer comes out to thank him for the new flashy impatiens (warm season annuals—has nothing to do with them being overly eager to bloom) that replaced the fading cool season annuals last week. They are coming along nicely, and are just as bright, flashy, and tacky as the rest of the dealership. These aren't the customer's exact words, but Moe fills in some of the subtext. The crew finishes mowing the bit of lawn in the parkstrip, and they are on their way to the next site.

Now at that strip mall a bit closer to town, they need to tread lightly. A few weeks ago, they sprayed a non-selective post emergent herbicide (which is what happens when Herb decides to end it all) to control aphids on English ivy. The aphids that were supposed to be killed were initially unharmed, and only starved because the gardeners killed the ivy that they were supposed to protect from the aphids! Rut-roh. That is the problem with illiteracy—labels are not much use to those who cannot read them. Poisoning the ivy…that's a new twist.

Well, they get the little bits of lawn mowed, and the abundant pavement blown, but before they go, they also need to shear everything into submission. This is the hard part, since the landscape would look so much better if they could actually prune things properly. Unfortunately, there is not enough time. And besides, the crew does not give two hoots about how pretty things look when they leave. They only know how to shear stuff. Wisteria that should be climbing the nice trellises behind them is shorn into the same globular shapes as everything else, before they finish and get on their way. You could pick up a pair of scissors right this minute and do as good a job as they did. Maybe even better if you also had a steak knife to work with.

We also use it to cut our butter. Sue us.

After parking to eat burritos at some random curb, they continue onto the sprawling Clampet Residence, where Granny always has questions about what they do there, and always seems surprised that Moe speaks English so well. Fortunately, it is at least an interesting and somewhat fun job. Yet again, Moe would prefer to work with gardeners who know how to take care of the greenery properly instead of performing their typical, static routine. Granny may be pleased, but she can barely see anything anyway, and Moe wants better results.

Everyone gets back to the yard, unloads what needs to be unloaded, and is out the gate by 3pm. Not many gardeners show much initiative to stay any later, even if just accidentally. You won’t often hear the phrase, "Oops—I just worked some overtime."