We were working at a small community bank. Francisco and Juan were wandering the parking lot, picking up garbage, while the rest of us were pulling weeds and pruning bushes in the front planter.
The lobby door flew open, and an executive in a business suit stomped out.
“Which one of you is in charge?” he barked, tromping toward us. He stopped in front of Slim, who was an overweight, acne-ridden guy who always had a cigarette dangling from his lips. “Are you the boss?”
Slim blew a stream of smoke and belched.
“I’m the foreman,” said Crew Leader Carl, stepping forward. “What’s going on?”
“We’ve been sending letters to your company, but no one’s responded,” the bank executive said. “All of our third-party vendors are required to certify in writing that their computer systems are in compliance with the latest antivirus software.”
Carl frowned. “Antivirus software?”
“It’s a regulatory requirement,” the executive said. “We need a letter from Benito’s Landscape Service, on letterhead, that states your company’s computer infrastructure is protected by the latest antivirus software.”
“Hmm,” Carl said lighting a cigarette. “I don’t think the owner even has a computer. He does his payroll and estimates on the typewriter. It’s not even electric.”
“I don’t care if he has a quill pen and an inkwell!” the executive said. “If he wants to continue doing business with us, then he needs to certify that all his electronic equipment is up-to-date.”
“But how can the company certify that its computers are up-to-date when we don’t even have a computer?” Carl asked. “Can’t you make an exception?”
The executive crossed his arms. “Like I said, it’s a regulatory requirement. The government makes us. And unless you can provide the letter, we’ll have no choice but to terminate your contract.”
“All right — fine,” Carl said. “Let’s not get hasty. Wait here. I’ll be right back.”
He went to the truck and returned with a legal pad and a pen. As we all stood there, he started to scrawl on the pad.
“That’s not letterhead,” the executive said, pointing.
“We don’t have letterhead,” Carl said. “We’re a landscaping company, not a stationery store! This is the best you’re going to get.”
A moment later, with one conclusive scribble, he tore off the sheet and handed it to the executive.
The executive read the letter aloud: “This is to certify, on behalf of Benito’s Landscape Service, that all of our rakes, shovels, lawnmowers, weed-whackers and pruners are in compliance with the latest antivirus standards. Yours truly, Crew Leader Carl.”
The executive frowned, crumpling the paper. “Yeah, this isn’t going to work.”
Carl blew a stream of smoke and belched.