We had a new guy on the crew — a kid right out of high school named Switchblade. (I assumed that was his nickname, and not his legal name.)
Switchblade had dyed hair, multiple piercings and tattoos on every exposed surface. His pants sagged to his knees, so when he was mowing lawns, he had to push the mower with one hand and hold up his pants with the other.
“Damn kid’s got more metal in him than the Terminator,” Crew Leader Carl said, shaking his head and blowing a stream of cigarette smoke.
As we were driving one day, Carl made an announcement:
“We got a special job today,” he said. “A lady called and said the retaining wall in her back yard was vandalized. She’s not one of our regular customers, so it’s a one-time gig.”
“We don’t normally fix block walls,” I said.
“We’re not repairing the wall itself,” Carl said. “Here, we’re almost there. I’ll show you.”
We pulled into a small neighborhood where all the houses were close together. Carl stopped in front of a house that sat near the neighborhood’s entrance. The homes on this side of the street had backyards that faced the highway.
Carl guided us to the backyard. A block retaining wall separated the yard from the street.
We walked through a gateway to the other side of the wall.
“This is what we’re cleaning,” Carl said, motioning to the wall. Its surface was covered with a mural of fresh graffiti.
“Ah, man,” Switchblade said.
“I know,” Carl said. “It’s going to take forever to scrub this, so the sooner we get started, the better.”
“Not that,” Switchblade said. “I just put all this stuff up, man. And now I got to take it down? Seriously?”