I put the truck in park and push in the parking break. My temp, Drew, is licking his lips and shifting around in the passengers seat. He’s occupied with his phone; writing lusty love letters with his thumbs to all three of his girlfriends. It’s Friday morning and I don’t much feel like working.
I’ve been working with Drew nearly two full weeks and he is wearing on my last nerve. He isn’t a bad guy, he’s just interested in different things than I am. Mostly sex. He talks about it incessantly. Especially pornography and how girlfriend number one, or GF1 as I’ve come to know her, sends him videos of herself stripping in her bedroom. A few days ago while we were driving back to the shop he said, “hmmm, penises.” Those hmmm’s, those quick mutterings in his throat come from his side of the cab every time we pass a girl. He uses them to communicate his desire to bend them. I’m repulsed by those hmmms. The penis thing though was new. I kept my eyes fixed on the road and pushed down on the gas pedal. “Penises. Did you see those bushes?” he ask. “They looked like three penises.”
He isn’t a bad guy. He’s just absolutely creepy.
It has started to rain outside so I decide we should take a break. I turn up the AM radio and slouch in my seat. They are talking about politics and sex scandals on the radio program. Seems like the whole world has gone mad on sex. Drew looks up from his phone with a shit-eating grin on his face. I can feel his look on my cheek. It feel’s slimy. “I think GF2 might have givin’ me something. I’ve had rash for a few days and now GF3 just texted me saying she has pelvic pain.” I want so desperately to turn into black robe and smote this man with my staff. “oh yeah?” I say, not looking him in the eye, “that’s no good.”
Why is he telling me this? I can’t handle it any more. “Let’s get to work.”
I open the door and the cool air has the smell of rain in it and I feel baptized by how clean it is. I put my ear-plugs in and grab a blower. Drew does the same. I love blowing fall leaves while it‘s raining. It is like painting, methodically sweeping the ground with stokes of air, herding dead leaves into piles, being in my own thoughts with the droll hum of the blower vibrating the hairs on the back of my neck. We make our way to high ground, working our way downhill and around the cars in the parking lot.
It is essential as a leaf shepherd not to fight the wind and the terrain but work with them. I start in a good spot and walk back and forth, pushing the line of debris towards its’ destiny. It is important not to break that line. If you get ahead of the line you’ll have to blow the same spot twice. I look up from my painting and see Drew fighting the hill, fighting the wind, even breaking the line. He’s blowing debris all over the place. I gesture to him to keep the line and give him a nod of encouragement. Minutes, maybe hours later, I look up again to see where my partner is. He’s still fighting the leaves. I can’t handle it anymore.
I turn off my blower and walk over to Drew and he takes his ear plugs out and stands nervously smiling.
“Drew,” I say, “you can’t get ahead of yourself.” I tell him about the line. “I’m not trying to stifle your creativity here but I can tell you from experience that your blowing strategy makes you work twice as hard. Do what works, keep it simple.”
This look takes over his face; he’s having an epiphany. “No, your right,” he says. “Hmmm, I’m blowing these leaves just like I’m living my life. I’m making a mess. I’ll work on it. Strait line?”
“Strait line,” I nod.