It was Monday morning, and we had just arrived at our first account.
“We’re going to switch things up a bit,” Crew Leader Carl said, as we climbed out of the truck. “Peter, follow me.”
Carl reached into the trailer, pulled out a leaf-blower, and handed it to me. “Here. I want you to get used to handling this thing.”
“Oh, wow.” The leaf-blower felt awkward in my grasp. It was the first time since joining the crew that I’d been entrusted with a power tool.
Carl frowned. “Well? What are you waiting for? Get going!”
“What do I do?” I asked.
“Oh, for crying out loud.” Carl wrenched the blower from my hands. “Here. You pull this cord to fire it up. Then see all those leaves on the ground? The ones that fell off those things we call trees? Well, you use the blower to clean them up!”
He slammed the leaf-blower into my stomach. “Got it?”
I winced. “Yes, sir. But….”
Carl glowered. “But what?”
“Wouldn’t it make more sense just to rake the leaves into a nice pile, so we can gather them up?”
“Holy crap,” Carl said. “We’re here to get the job done; not to create more work for ourselves. That’s why we have tools! You’ve got a college education, don’t you? Use it!”
“Yes, sir,” I said.
So as Carl stomped off, I yanked on the starter cord and fired up the blower. The motor whined with a deafening squeal.
As the other guys mowed and pruned, I walked around the yard and blew all of the scattered leaves into a large pile. I started from one end of the yard and walked forward, waving the blower in a sweeping motion until the leaves tumbled into the pile.
By the time the rest of the crew was wrapping up, the pile had grown pretty large.
Crew Leader Carl appeared and glared. “What in the world is that?”
“How does it look?” I asked, motioning to the pile. “I think I got pretty much all of the leaves.”
“Give me that damn thing!” Carl yanked the blower from my hands and fired it up. Then he blew my neat pile of leaves into the neighbor’s yard and out into the street.
He returned and slammed the blower into my stomach.
“There!” he said. “Now the leaves are gone! That’s how you clean up a yard!”
I looked at the mess of leaves scattered everywhere. “Yes, sir.”
“It’s like I told you,” Carl said, stomping toward the truck, “we’re not here to create more work for ourselves! And you call yourself college-educated!”