We were working at our newest account — a brand-new home in the ritzy part of town. The house itself was three stories with a pool in the backyard and a horseshoe driveway in front.
We had a big job ahead of us. The side yard was bare dirt, and the homeowner had requested that we cover it with cobble rock. A huge dump truck had dropped twenty yards of the stuff in the street in front of the house. It looked like a large rock mountain.
In addition, the shop superintendent, Shoemaker, had towed over a small tractor for us to spread the rock.
As were were unloading our shovels and wheelbarrows, a woman emerged from the house dressed in ripped blue jeans and a designer blouse. She had sunglasses perched atop her head, and large rings on her fingers.
“Hello!” she sang, approaching us. All of the guys paused and stared.
“Good morning,” said Crew Leader Carl. “Are you the homeowner?”
“Well, I’m his wife,” she said, laughing. “I wanted to come out this morning to help you guys.”
Carl’s eyes widened. “Really?”
“Oh, yes,” the woman said. “I cherish working in the yard with my bare hands. I especially love landscaping. See, going green is very important to me, and I’ve dedicated my life to living sustainably. I don’t care if I have to get a little dirt under my fingernails — I want to leave my thumbprint on this place. I’m ready to dive right in and do whatever needs to be done.”
Carl’s eyes narrowed. “Uh-huh.”
“I mean it,” the woman said. “Whether it’s planting a tree to reduce my carbon footprint or installing a water-saving irrigation system to reduce our impact on the planet, I’m here to help out in any way possible.”
“OK,” Carl said. He pointed to the rock mountain. “See that twenty yards of cobble sitting there? We need to haul it by wheelbarrow to the backyard. So if you’d like, you can grab a shovel and a wheelbarrow and start hauling.”
The woman’s face fell. “You’re using wheelbarrows? But what about that tractor? Can’t you use that to haul the rock?”
“Well,” Carl said, “we were going to use the tractor. But now that we have you to help us, it seems much more environmentally friendly to haul the rock by hand. The tractor burns diesel and belches exhaust, and from an environmental perspective, it’s just not sustainable. I’m sure you’d agree.”
“Um.” The woman bit her lip.
Carl grinned. “I’d suggest wearing gloves when pushing the wheelbarrows. Their metal handles absorb the sun, and without protection, they’ll blister your palms.”
“You know,” the woman said, licking her lips, “I think I have a nail appointment I forgot about.”
“I’m not at all surprised,” Carl said. “Have a good day, ma’am. And remember: Be sure to tell your manicurist to use an earth-friendly polish. We wouldn’t want her to apply anything toxic that could harm the environment.”