The Cavalier Daily
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Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's Yard Man

When considering which field you would like to pursue as a career, you must consider the facts. The job most likely to allow you to earn a great deal of money while still allowing you to look at hundreds of unattractive naked people is that of a physician. On the other hand, the career most likely to bring you wealth while ensuring that you will be surrounded by criminals, adulterers, and dwarfs wearing capes is that of talk show host or politician. But the job most likely to earn you small amounts of money and still let you deal with countless slimy creatures with many legs is that of Yard Man.

When I took a part-time yard work job this summer (as you can see, my writing abilities are really taking me places), I imagined it would consist of strutting around in dirty ripped jeans and rugged boots with no shirt while sun beamed down on my (manly) muscle-rippled body as I hurled large pieces of (manly) lumber into the back of a mud-blanketed (extremely manly) pickup truck. OK, so I was picturing a Ford commercial. But that's what yard work is, right?

Well, it turns out that is exactly how it is, if you replace "rugged boots" with "old tennis shoes," "tan, muscle-rippled body" with "pasty white body containing the occasional muscle here and there," "large pieces of lumber" with "large pieces of dead, rotting wood which seemed to host the Million Bug March," and replace "mud-blanketed pickup truck" with "old dirt pile."

You may ask how it came about that I ended up doing yard work during the summer before my last year in an institution of higher learning. Well, I went to the career services department here at the University, and I used a computer program that tells users what career they're suited for.

I simply typed in that I am an English major and a psychology minor, and the computer quickly came up with the two most likely career paths for me. The first one was yard work, and the second option was assistant supervisor of paper-based housing developments. The second option sounded exciting until I found out it simply meant being homeless. And it didn't even mean I was in charge of my own homelessness. I was supposed to be the assistant to some other homeless guy. So I picked yard work.

Just the name "yard work" is intimidating because very few jobs have "work" right there in the title. Think about it: If you have an office job, all that really means is that you have a job. You don't necessarily do any work. You might just sit there all day staring at the computer. That's why businesses use the term "fill the position." That's what you do; you are in a position (usually seated), and you fill it up. Once again implying that actual work is not necessarily involved.

But in yard work, working is always necessary because it's actually in the name. And that's why I now call my job "landscaping."

Starting out in landscaping was actually a little frightening because the man I worked for lived out in the country, rarely answered his phone and had 666 in his phone number. So when I went to work the first day, I fully expected to be violently murdered. I reasoned that death wouldn't be that bad as long as I still got my paycheck. To make a long story short, I wasn't killed, but now I only have two fingers on my left hand.

For all you English and psychology majors, I will now give you some important tips on how to be a good landscaper. The first step is to be on good terms with the entire insect community. Whether you like it or not, insects seem to very much enjoy screwing with yard workers. No matter how hard you try, insects will somehow find their way onto your face, into your hair, onto your hands and arms, and into other areas which they really shouldn't be until at least the third date.

My second tip for landscaping is to always wear gloves so that you won't get poison ivy on your hands while you're accidentally smearing it on your face. Despite the fact I am an intelligent human being armed with large, razor-sharp shears, the plants always seem to get the last laugh. The general motto among the plant community is: "We're not going down without at least giving you a couple of a cuts and a nasty rash."

Some people will tell you that another problem with yard work is that there's usually not anyone else to talk to while you're working unless you count the weed whacker and the occasional chipmunk. But most of the conversations I've had in the office setting were not any more scintillating than those I've had with weed whackers or chipmunks.

This summer has taught me that doing yard work is an excellent experience. Plus, I'm sure it will do wonders for my resume. I read the number one ability that big businesses look for in a worker is that he or she can kill bugs and plants in one fell swoop. And if that falls through, I've always got my English degree.

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