I was in the middle of telling a story at the dinner table last night when the doorbell rang. I got up and answered the door. A man told me in broken English, “I looking for work.”
Ain’t we all, pal.
He explained that he worked for our neighbors down the street, the ones with the beautifully landscaped yard with the stone retaining walls and apparently deer-proof shrubs.
“Oh, you are a landscaper?” I asked.
“Yes,” he nodded. “I look for work,” he reiterated, and then he swept his hand all Vanna White-like toward the abomination that is my front yard.
“Well, we just had construction done,” I apologized. “Just” in this case means “two years ago.” I hoped he hadn’t worked for my neighbors with the beautiful yard for very long.
He still stood there. I thought about explaining that we aren’t doing the landscaping until we add a deck to the back of the house in the area where the money ran out two years ago. We don’t want construction trucks digging up our nice landscaping now, do we? Which is why our front yard looks like a fresh construction site: brand spankin‘ new siding, roof and shutters emerging from the mud. Crumbling slabs of slate have been thrown hastily every few feet between the driveway and the new front steps, causing visitors to hop slab to slab or else end up with muddy shoes. The grass, what there is of it, grows in patches, except where the backhoe had mowed through the trees to get to those front steps from the road. There are no shrubs. There are no retaining walls. There is no landscaping and there won’t be until we get that deck.
Sadly for the rest of the neighborhood, ours is the first house on the street. Therefore, neighbors have to pass my muddy moat of a front yard whenever they want to go out, and then they have to pass it again whenever they come home. I wonder if they think, “When are they going to fix up that pit?” Or in the case of my visiting landscaper, “Cuando van a fijar para arriba ese hoyo?” In this economy? ¡Aye carumuba!
I thanked my entrepreneurial visitor after turning him down. I shut the door and then I went to the window to watch him hop slab to slab back to his truck, where, no doubt, he reported the disappointing news to his fellow workers.
When I returned to the kitchen table, I told my family what had happened.
One son asked, “Well when are we getting a deck?”
The other son replied, “When I leave for college.”
A vision of a college tuition bill popped into my head. I shuddered. Then I thought about the empty space where the deck should be and my muddy front yard and I muttered, “I looking for work.”