A yard untouched by human hands 

We were working at one of our newer accounts when the back door to the house opened and closed, and the homeowner padded out. He was an older man dressed in slippers and a robe that ended well above his knees. 

I gagged a little and looked away.

“Hey!” he called out to us. “Which one of you is in charge?”

I pointed to Crew Leader Carl, who was standing with his arms crossed. “Him — the one supervising.”

The homeowner approached Carl. “I need to talk to you about possibly redoing my yard.”

“OK,” Carl said, blowing a stream of cigarette smoke. 

“I just bought the place, but I don’t like the landscaping. There’s too much lawn and rock and trees. It’s not natural.”

Carl frowned. “It’s not natural?”

“It doesn’t go with the natural landscape. We live in a desert. I want the landscaping to blend in more with the natural terrain.”

“Hmm.” Carl scrunched his lips, which is what he did when he was thinking really hard. 

“See,” the man said, pointing, “the hill behind my house is covered with sand and sagebrush. That’s it. That’s how I want my yard to look. I want the sand and sage to come up to my back porch.” 

“So basically, you don’t want a yard?” Carl asked. “Is that what you’re saying? You just want a vacant lot?”

The man clenched his fist. “You’re not getting it! I’m a purist. I want the yard to resemble the surrounding terrain as much as possible!” 

“Um … OK. I think I understand what you’re saying,” Carl said — which meant he didn’t understand at all. “You want your yard to look completely natural, as if it just came about on its own, and wasn’t installed by human hands.” 

“Exactly,” the homeowner said. “See, I just put in this outdoor theater system, with a projector and a retracting screen and multi-speaker setup, and when we watch movies, we want to feel like we’re in the uninhabited wilderness.”

Carl scratched his head as he looked at all the high-dollar equipment. 

“Yeah,” he said, blowing another stream of smoke. “I can see how you’re a purist when it comes to the natural terrain.”