Monday, 5 May 2008

How To Be A Landscaper (Part Deux)

Back in January, excited about my new job, I wrote a rave review of landscaping and how I was looking forward to working outside immensely. Since then I have covered snippets of the job but have never really gone into detail about what it was that I had been doing since starting in January.

I will start with the obvious apology. I was wrong; I am very sorry to anyone that was inspired by my excitement for landscaping and thought that everything had worked out for me - happily ever after - in terms of my career. Landscaping has two major flaws. Firstly, "landscaping is boring. So boring" (John Fenn, ex-coworker commenting on my January "How To Be A Landscaper" blog post). Secondly, if the weather is bad the job becomes quite depressing and uncomfortable. In England this would only include a single snow fall all year with showers throughout Spring. Vancouver has as much rain but also gets snowfalls between November and April!

Looking back on the memories, I have naturally forgotten the bad things and kept the good ones so my general experience was a good one. I know that I will not make a career out of it but wouldn't be opposed to landscaping again one day for a short period if I needed too. Even the difficulties of working with any particular coworker have been forgotten whereas the memories of the long discussions and inside jokes have lived on.

Not only have I met people from all around the world, interested in a huge variety of things and in very different points in their lives but I have also improved my body with regular exercise, muscle building and a nice tan (on my face and arms at least!) and have made some good friends along the way.

The job itself has changed a lot since the first time I blogged about it. When I started we were mostly working on putting mulch down for the flowerbeds and raking the leaves from November that had since been covered by snow and become unreachable. By the end of March we had also started weeding the beds and trimming the hedges/bushes.

After Easter we began removing the "spring flowers" and planting lots of "summer flowers". We began working on the lawns and got into a weekly mowing routine for most of the sites. We also trimmed and dead-headed bushes and trees to make them look nicer.

As well as these general themes, from time to time we have also worked one-off jobs which include planting trees, installing water features, laying turf (4 tonnes of turf, up three flights of stairs!) and fixing sprinklers. These jobs are nice because they add a little variety into the monotony although they are all much harder work than picking weeds or walking up and down a lawn with a self-propelled mower.

Carrying a bucket of weeds to the truck on a beautiful day in South Vancouver

My highlight of the job so far was seeing the "X-Mark" for the first time. After weeks of Sal mentioning how cool I would think the new machine was and how much she was looking forward to riding around on it - complete with roll cage and "suicide bar" - I was imagining a ride on mower with fold down blades and insane speeds/manoeuvrability! I certainly was not expecting her to roll out of the new trailer on what can be best described as a Segway-mower combination! A defining moment in my commentary shone through as I coined the phrase "looks like it's special day at the nerd-lympics!" - between fits of laughter!

Some of the other interesting moments that spring to mind involve hearing Sal's various incredible stories ridden with bizarre quotes and phrases. Keepers include "Holy Toledo", "Don't Assume - it makes you an asshole", her view on sexism and when she admitted to having not only at one point seen a ghost (which initially impressed me) but to have also seen UFOs twice, a poltergeist that threw a knife at her, possessed people and other bizarre things that alone would probably could possibly pass as believable but together only further reinforced my view of her being insane!

Inside jokes with Danny, Sanoo, Jon, Shawn and Jason made the hours drag considerably less than when I had no music and no company. Topics usually centered on passers-by, Sal, nosy homeowners and friendly banter between each other.

In conclusion, since all good writings have a conclusion, I have enjoyed the experience and like with hiking will soon forget the pain and remember the awesome times along the way! The deep discussions about life, morality, ambition and past have helped me to grow considerably and I would attribute much of my personal improvement along the way since arriving in Vancouver to these conversations with my workmates.

To have made such great friends along the way, who in turn have introduced me to more people, has made this trip infinitely easier and more enjoyable so I am grateful for everyone that I worked with along the way - even if it was mainly to provide awkward situations and topics for banter in the case of Sal.


Shawn Fairholm said...

Despite the one negative time, you were a hard worker and it was a pleasure to work with you...
You amused me so fuckin' much and to whatever is ahead, I know you will be successful!!!


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