Almost every nine months I pick my head up and there’s no one bringing me lunch at 12:30. I’m just alone, at home and over-caffeinated, wondering what the fuck I’m doing with my life.
So I start to plan for my future. I think about cutting back. In 2010 I sold my truck to pay my rent. That actually didn’t work out terribly other than not having a car in Los Angeles. That was problematic. What got me there was a couple weeks in Paris, then Spain, then a jaunt to the bullet-shroud coastline of Beirut. Unfortunately, I came back and well—what I’m saying is I know feast and famine. Famine more so than feast, but today I came up with a plan: self-sufficiency.
But in achievable doses. There’s a small team of small men who wear safari hats, cut down the weeds that constitute our lawn and then they blow it onto the cars parked nearby. That, I think to myself, is a job I can do. And the money that I’ll save? Come on, it’s a no brainer. Sorry Safari Silvio, I’m unemployed, grappling with what to do with my days and I’m coming for the $40 bucks you’re raking in like a bandit and dividing 3 ways every 2 weeks.
So I go to Home Depot, as is my practice, and I walk the aisles quickly, having no idea where I’m going for an hour. I work methodically through lumber, then power tools, door handles, combination locks, toilets, bathroom cabinets, sliding glass doors, 37 types of refrigerators, washing machines – this place goes and goes – and so do I from aisle 20-something to the far wall – ah, gardening shit. Succulents for me and my sucker friends who can’t keep anything alive. There are also shovels, the thing I used to dig a hole for a fence post, really too many tools to account for. I stand on the edge of the aisle for 7 long minutes trying to wave down someone in orange. They blow past me on scissor-lifts, motorized carts and on foot. Finally, I stop a 15-year-old girl with the name “Grissy” etched on her vest.
Hi, I’m looking for a weed whacker.
Like an edger?
Um, maybe. It’s for a lawn.
Lawn mowers are on 2 at the end of the aisle.
No, like a hand-held thing that you see guys sort of hacking away at ankle high stuff.
She waves me over – These are the lawn edgers. You’ve got gas, which have the most juice, cordless which are the next best and then this kind you plug in.
You probably want a battery operated one.
She darts off and I pull out my phone. I log into my uncle’s Consumer Reports account and read reviews of about 70 different “Edgers/String Trimmers.” All the best ones are out of my arbitrarily pre-determined and based on nothing price range. I pick up the cheapest one. Black and Decker. Yes, good old, maybe American… steel? I guess I’ll find out when I open it.
An hour later, I make two shocking discoveries: the first – it’s pink. The second, it’s neither gas nor battery operated. It plugs in. Fine, I’ll make do. These are the moments when I’m most resilient.
The device, which is apparently not a weed whacker, but still looks like one to me, doesn’t have a blade at all. Instead there’s a little green string with a pink hood around it. For the next five minutes I walk around my front yard like those old guys running metal detectors down at the beach. I don’t really have a technique yet. Swing and hope for the best. Weeds seem to be getting cut, some higher than others. Occasionally, I miscalculate and grind down to the earth flinging rocky dirt into my shins and Vans. I’m inching along when the extension cord rips out. It’s apparently about 45 feet too short to get the other half of the lawn. While I’m looking for another outlet, I pick my head up and notice two Mexican guys across the street. They’re smiling at me and I smile back. They toast me with their Tecates which they’re keeping in the bed of the truck they’re leaned up against.
For the next hour, I massacre half of the lawn. I kick up dirt and fill the walkway with all manner of plant shrapnel. I leave myself sprinkled with prickly plants, Bermuda grass and dirt. My once white Vans are now anything but.
But when I look across the street and I see the two hombres crushing Tecates, laughing until they’re crying at the hatch job I’m doing to my lawn, well, it brings a smile to my sunburned face. There are only so many moments when we can provide this thrill, this pure-unadulterated joy to a stranger. And you know what? I did that this morning. I made two guys, who apparently know the right way to use the thing that I’m using that’s not a weed whacker, basically piss themselves with amusement.
As I finish up, they guzzle the last of their Tecates, open the bed of their truck, wheel out a lawn mower and a blower – a fucking blower – I knew I forgot something at Home Depot. And they proceed to brilliantly mow my neighbor’s lawn. When they finish there isn’t a speck of dirt or grass on the walkway. Everything is blown directly on my neighbor’s recently washed and waxed Cadillac.
I’ll tell you what, those guys did a hell of a job and earned every drop of those 10 AM Tecates. And if I contributed in any way to what they accomplished across the street, well, I’m grateful to have played my small part.