As Lawn Crews Evolve into Commandos,
Teenage Unemployment Skyrockets
My first job was mowing a neighbor’s yard. Every Thursday afternoon in the summer I would cruise over to his house, drag his old push mower out of the garage, check the oil, gas it up then pray it started.
After 200 pulls or so, fire would blow from the hole where the muffler should’ve gone, and it shook like the paint mixer at Lowe’s. It was easy to see the blade blaring through the huge hole in the side of the deck. That’s because this mower was even a generation older than the ones with a plastic chute you had to pull up and tie with a piece of string to keep the grass from clogging up.
The mowing took an hour or so. After I finished though, it was time for the real suffering to begin. I had to crawl on my knees with a pair of hand clippers to trim the weeds around the house and trees. These clippers were the kind with squeeze handles like scissors. They were medieval. Plus they were rusty – from my tears and sweat I am convinced — so after every three or four cuts, the blades would get stuck together, and I had to pull them apart. Sometimes I would only trim near the back door, hoping he wouldn’t go around the other side of the house. I got paid $5. It bought gas for a week.
That job doesn’t exist anymore. It’s been replaced by these professional lawn crews. You know the ones: they invade like Navy Seals, neutralize their target and are gone before the smell of freshly-cut onions hits your nose.
I watch in amazement as eight guys deploy from a 40-foot trailer and launch a fleet of rocket-powered mowers. They don’t even have seats. I guess that’s because they’re already finished before they get started good. Meanwhile, two or three more goons drag out these massive string trimmers to destroy anything the mowers didn’t get. About the time they get those loaded back up, two more guys blaze up their industrial-strength leaf blowers and obliterate all the evidence.
Sometimes afternoons this time of year, there are a half-dozen of these operations being conducted in my neighborhood simultaneously. It takes the skill of an Olympic slalom skier to navigate around the trailers parked in the road.
I’m glad I grew up in the days before lawn crews looked like military assault units. On the other hand, I don’t enjoy mowing my own yard, and I usually have $5 in my pocket. Maybe I’ll give one of them a call someday.