It was late afternoon, and we were working at one of our last accounts for the day. I was in the backyard on my hands and knees, pulling weeds from one of the planters.
The back door opened and closed, and a man wearing a white shirt and a blue tie stepped out. He was carrying a glass of iced tea.
“Afternoon!” he said, walking toward me.
I looked up, squinting against the late-afternoon sun. “Afternoon.”
The man inhaled deeply, rocking on his heels. “Gorgeous day. I love summer.”
“It’s definitely been warm,” I said. “I’m waiting to get home so I can take a cool shower.”
“That’s right; you’re out in the the heat all day.” The man shook his head. “It’s all perspective. I used to work outdoors when I was younger, and I hated it. But now that I work in an office, it’s all I can do to keep from staring out the window, wishing I was outside.”
He gazed into his iced tea and sighed. “I went into plastics, and it’s OK. The money’s good. But if I had it to do over, I’d be a landscape architect. You know what I mean? I respect what you guys do so much. You make people’s yards look beautiful. I love plants and laying them out, but I just don’t have any of that knowledge. I can’t tell you which shrubs prefer shade and which prefer sun, or what types of trees can withstand the wind without breaking. I never got educated on all that stuff.”
I continued to pull weeds. “Yeah.”
The man sipped his tea. “I’d love to learn, though. I need to read some garden books and teach myself the basics. Then maybe I can take a community-college class, or something.”
I pulled another weed. “Uh-huh.”
“I’m sure it’s a learning curve, though,” the man said. He glanced down at me. “How about you? How long did it take you to learn?”
“Well,” I said, shrugging, “all I really do is prune flowers and pull weeds, so maybe, like, half a day?”