All of us on the crew tensed as we pulled to a stop in front of our next account.
It was an otherwise normal-looking house on a nice street. The issue was that it belonged to the company’s owner, Benito. We knew that if the lawn was cut too short or if a single weed was missed, Benito would chew each of us out in Italian.
To make matters worse, Benito’s wife was a homemaker, so she was always there to glower at us through the window as we worked, and also to make sure that we didn’t tromp on her flowers or kick gravel onto the lawn.
With anxiety gripping my heart, I knelt and started deadheading flowers in the front planter. I glanced up and saw Benito’s wife standing at the window, staring me down. I shivered and focused intently on my work.
Juan ambled by with a weed eater slung over his shoulder. As he trudged along the gravel path woven through the front yard, he accidentally kicked gravel onto the lawn.
The window immediately flew open, and Benito’s wife started screaming.
“That no-good bastard no watch where he step!” she yelled, pointing at Juan. “He kick rock all over!”
“Dammit Juan!” Crew Leader Carl barked. “Watch where you’re going!”
Later, Juan and I were kneeling in the path, pulling minuscule clover-looking weeds that grew in the moss woven between the stepping stones.
Juan paused for a moment to pull a sticker from his finger.
The window flew open again. “He no pulling enough weeds!” Benito’s wife screamed, pointing at Juan. “He lazy! He just sit and stare!”
“Dammit Juan!” Crew Leader Carl barked. “Work harder!”
As we loaded the truck, Carl appeared behind me.
“Wow,” he said, his voice low. “For whatever reason, Benito’s wife does not like Juan. And when Benito’s wife doesn’t like someone, she tells Benito, and then Benito fires them.”
My eyes widened. “He’s actually fired people because she complained?”
“Of course,” Carl said. “And why not? I’m sure it’s easier to find new people than it is to argue with her!”