It was a sweltering summer morning, and we were working at one of our newer accounts. All of us on the crew were scurrying around mowing, pruning and pulling weeds, while Crew Leader Carl stood with his arms crossed, supervising.
The front door opened, and the homeowner came hobbling out. He was an older man with thin, wispy hair. He was wearing shorts that showed off his pencil-thin legs and knobby knees. The bright sunlight glared off them, and I had to look away.
“Excuse me!” he called to Carl. “Can I ask you something?”
“Sure,” Carl said, walking toward the front stairs.
“I’ve had that tree there since I moved in,” the man said, pointing. “Do you know what kind it is?”
Carl rubbed his chin. “You know, I’m not sure.”
“The reason I ask is that it seems to drop a lot of leaves,” the man said. “It’s as if there’s a new pile every morning. Do you know if that’s normal?”
Carl shrugged. “I really couldn’t say.”
“I also noticed that it’s close to the street,” the man continued. “I’m worried about the roots. Do you think they could tear up the sidewalk as the tree matures?”
Carl tilted his head. “That’s a good question.”
“The trunk also got a split in it during a recent windstorm,” the man said. “I don’t know if it’s a hardwood or a softwood. Is there a chance it could snap someday and topple onto my house?”
Carl licked his lips. “That’s definitely something to think about.”
I turned to Francisco, who was kneeled beside me, pulling weeds.
“I love to watch a professional at work,” I told him.