February 5, 2021

nervous nelly budded into a landscaper who's always working, plus wiseass specialist

As a kid, Tank was a nervous nelly. He claimed to be interested in Irish dancing but he cried at the first class. Same with sports. He wanted to be signed up but trying new things made him wig out.

Imagine my surprise when he was 11 and I left the house for a run while he was mowing our lawn. When I came back he was mowing the lawn across the street on the corner. A lovely couple, hard to believe - but yes they do live in our neighborhood. They're a little older than us. Tank waved and shrugged his shoulders while motioning around the yard like a young Bob Barker:  'All this and so much more can be yours . . .'

Inside I asked around if anyone knew if Mr. Drummond had asked Tank to mow. No one knew a thing about it. Later the Drummonds filled us in. Tank rang their bell and handed them a paper with a million misspellings.

His offer: he'd mow their lawn. If they liked it he instructed them to circle $5, if they didn't think he did a good job - they circled 'not good' and his service was free. They told him to go for it and they insisted on paying him $20. He behaved as if he'd won the lottery.

They referred him to a couple in the culdesac. Tank gave the woman his pitch. She said she wasn't sure. She had no money and her husband wasn't home. Tank left her his number and went home.

Later the woman called. Coach answered the extension in the basement. The woman said she decided that she DID want him to mow her lawn.

Tank: Well, I don't know. You just told me you don't have any money! (imagine Coach in the basement FREAKING out at how rude our kid sounded to a neighbor - one we didn't know, but STILL).

And so our little entrepreneur was born. The next summer as a 12 year old between caddying and mowing, he earned over $4,000.

Since then, Tank mowed lawns, planted bushes, did spring clean ups, handed out fliers, met people on places like Nextdoor, got referrals, trained siblings, took a portion of the siblings' pay for jobs they covered for him, got stitches when he stabbed himself with a landscaping knife, acquired another mower, got super excited when my folks gave him a blower for his 12th birthday, and has refined his people skills but not necessarily his spelling skills.

Next, he met a woman who runs her own commercial landscaping business and started working for her on the days he didn't caddy. He learns a lot there and has been given a few raises over time. During the lockdown, he helped her on days he didn't have to e-learn, following rules like wearing masks, driving in separate car, working outside, etc.

Somewhere along the line he started working for a family friend who works for his family's business. They make labels for things like engine parts. The guy's son is one of Ed's best friends. During covid when that place was closed, Tank agreed to take a project and complete it in our home. He had to attach grommets to something. It included punching 80 billion little holes into these red vinyl banners.

Guess what's fun? Finding over half of those 80 billion little red circle cutouts all over my flipping house since this little lockdown project. Tank worked in the basement, but failed to sweep up the scraps until I started to notice these odd little red circles all over the house. Then I ventured down into the basement. I WAS ASTOUNDED.

Doesn't look like much, but these little buggers
were harder than shit to pick up.

It appears that the vacuum gobbled the circles up, but
most of them needed to be picked up by hand.

You're here for the riveting photos, I know it.

We are friends with the guy (Ed's friend's dad) - and yes, I do send him photos occasionally of little red circles as I find them. 10 months later.

This summer, Tank planted a watermelon that his landscaping boss gave him. We are not planting people. I was surprised when he opted to grow his plant along our front walkway - near our front door. Anyway, it didn't grow all that big, but he enjoyed the experiment and we enjoyed getting the occasional photo of his budding watermelon and a message like: "I'd like to thank all the little people", etc.

Cute, but not likely to satisfy appetites in our family.

In the fall, Tank met a kid who runs his own landscaping gig. He attends our rival high school - Entitled High. He owns his own equipment, like big league stuff. The kinds of stuff Tank drools over, and that we cannot afford and even if we could - our garage is LOADED. Hard pass. Anyway, Tank reached out to him, and they met recently. The kid (also a senior) hired him to help out whenever Tank has time, etc.

In case I haven't summed it up properly, this kid is a shaker and a mover. He's going places. And when he isn't going places, he leaves his size 15 shoes in the middle of my kitchen floor.

When we met with a member of the business faculty at Creighton, I told them that Tank is geared towards sales. One point the man made was that they have awesome internships. A guy on staff goes out and comes back with amazing internships, you name it - he makes it happen. I told the professor that this guy sounds like Tank. A get-it-done kind of guy.

Tank turned around to look at me in the presentation room with his intentionally fake sincerity look because he is a comedian on the side: Hey, thanks.

Me: No problem.

Hopefully he'll get accepted based on this mother's ringing endorsement because his math skills aren't gonna have anybody tripping over little watermelon plants to get to him.

I intended to post this in December when Tank was turning 18, but then a dryer broke and doorways needed to be expanded and I was labeled as a gas appliance. I share it now, so you know a bit more about my senior in high school. He likes junk food, so gifts of junk food are welcome as he copes with his non-existent senior year.

Kidding, but I cannot imagine our home with him away at college next year.


Anonymous said...

Since you first mentioned that he liked this type of work, the thought of having such help has always been accompanied by the concern of how in the world I would ever be able to cook enough to fill him up!
If you think you can handle his potential swelled head, you can tell him that he has become part of the narrative that plays in my head. Like yesterday when I was cutting a sizable limb that had fallen onto a fence. I no longer feel safe using a chain saw, so I was out there with a bow saw thinking, "Where's Tank?" Along with other thoughts, expletives deleted in this retelling.
KS G'ma

Beth Cotell said...

He sounds like such a motivated kid! Good luck to him as he figures out where he will be going.

Ernie said...

KS G'ma- Ha - that's so sweet. Yes, he is a bottomless pit. Last night chicken tacos, I think his first helping was over 2 chicken breasts. Of course he isn't much for lettuce, so that might explain some of it. It is a pity he doesn't live nearby - this would be right up his alley.

Ernie said...

Beth - He hasn't heard back from the golf caddy scholarship committee. We don't think he will get that full ride scholarship, because we have too many assets. The other boys heard before mid February. Every day that goes by leaves us wondering, IS IT POSSIBLE? I don't think he can get it, but the longer he waits to get a NO the more his hopes go up. If he gets it, then he will probably go to the big school where Ed is. Ed got decent scholarship money, but out of state tuition is hefty. Without scholarship money, Tank probably won't go there. We think he'd do better at a smaller school anyway. Keep you posted. An exciting time for our boys. Praying that they end up in a place where they will feel at home and blossom.

Gigi said...

*Looking out the window to the giant bed in the back* - I sure wish y'all lived here, I could use some help out there!

Tank sounds delightful and his can do attitude will take him far!

Ernie said...

Gigi - My yard is in total disarray. Apparently I don't pay enough. I do think he will go far, which is a relief because when the kids were younger and he struggled with some basic stuff like shoe tying, we thought one of the siblings was going to have to agree to 'take him.' We never verbalized that to the kids, but funny thing . . . he and Mini once made a plan to get a farm together. She'd raise horses and he would do stuff in the fields. (they were like 8 and 9). She was like, yeah I'll Tank will probably always live with me . . . almost as if she understood that he might need that. Well, he's come a long way, but that makes me laugh.

Suz said...

Tank is such a wonderful guy....I've not met him, but I love him. Well, I love all your people!
If you were in our 'hood, I'd have him working day and night on my butterfly gardens and veggie gardens. BTW: I'm impressed with the cute watermelon. I love that he has that 'go get 'em' attitude; there is hope yet for our younger generation!
Size 15 shoes? I sure hope his feet have stopped growing.

I almost pee'd my pants reading about "you're here for the riveting photos" of your rivet holes. :) YOU are the best!!

Cheryl said...

Holy crap! You have a budding Jeff Bezos living under your roof! Lucky dog!
Who knows? Someday your son may be worth 122 billion dollars...and own a company that is worth 2.7 trillion dollars! (All numbers courtesy of ABC Late Night News)

All kidding aside. There is some money to be made in landscaping. If I heard it once, I heard it a 100 times from my brother "I made 125K last summer, landscaping lawns and power washing homes and walks". Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. lol.

Nicole MacPherson said...

This is very sweet! He sounds like a great kid (with huge feet, omg, size 15). Also, stabbed himself with a landscaping knife, eeeeeee.

Ernie said...

Suz- Tank has a fan club . . . it pretty much includes everyone that meets him. He can push my buttons, and when Ed was home he caught on. . . HE'S SAYING THAT TO GET A RISE OUT OF YOU. Tank stands to the side practically with the guy from Austin Powers look on his face and pinkie inserted in mouth. While insisting that he is just innocently asking a question. Little snot.

Feet have stopped growing. One foot way smaller than the other. I refuse to buy 2 pairs . . just cater to the big foot.

Ernie said...

Cheryl- ha, the sky is the limit with this kid . . . well 'cept for math. He need to hire someone to count his money. He used to pay Reggie a few bucks to count his piles and piles of money each summer. They make a good team, when they decide mot to be oil and vinegar with each other. Tank: BUT REG IS ANNOYING. Me: SO ARE YOU NOW LET'S ALL JUST GET ALONG.

Ernie said...

Nicole- he is a piece of work. You know what's fun AND dangerous? Living with a kid with huge feet who cannot for the life of him put his shoes away. Constant tripping hazard.

Yes the accidental stabbing into his shin required stitches and a parent to come get him from his job. We were busy and we were like BE THERE SOON. Oops.

Bibliomama said...

That's amazing that he's so self-motivated. My kids prefer that jobs drop right into their laps - and honestly I can't blame them, I was the same way. It's good to have a hustler, though.

Ernie said...

Ali - I'm helping him fine tune his essays for scholarships and his story of how he got his landscaping business going is a great tale. He's a real piece of work. I know he'll do great in college (if he finds one with unlimited eating per swipe at the dining hall), but oh how I will miss his entertaining antics.