Cover Letters: Applying To Be A Part-Time Landscaper


Every day I apply to jobs. Sometimes two, or three or 20. The positions range from sperm donor to seventh grade teacher. The entire process is a humiliating bummer, but the applications do occasionally provide delusional fragments of an alternate life, as well as opportunities for personal reflections. Cover Letters explores these fragments and reflections and the jobs that inspire them.

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am writing in regards to the part-time landscaper position. I feel I would be an excellent addition to your seasonal crew. I spent my teenage summers circling hazy cul de sacs, dragging a push mower door to door, lugging weed whackers and power washers with flat tires, sacks of mulch, rusty wheelbarrows rattling with hoes and spades and scythes. I’ve dug koi ponds and dismantled above-ground swimming pools. I’ve planted fruit trees and buried pets beneath them. I’m pretty much immune to poison ivy. I’ve already got chronic Lyme. I have a healthy distrust of nature. I won’t show up to a job site without a pellet gun, muskrat traps and a backpack full of pesticides.

I understand the sensitive needs of your clients. The lawn boy frequently comes in contact with the seedy underbelly of suburbia. Discretion is the name of the game. I’m a professional. I won’t mess with their grow operation or meddle with the moonshine still in the garden shed. If the RV in the driveway’s a rocking, I won’t come a knocking. I will refuse so much as a lemonade from housewives and daughters. That’s pool boy stuff. I’m here for the comforting smells of gas cans and grass clippings. I’m here for the tamed hedge, the steaming mulch, the sore arm muscles and lingering vibrations. I can go it alone or work with a team. I speak conversational Spanish if drunk.

One summer I worked for a man with a pretty big spread, something close to an estate. There was a golf cart. After a long day’s work digging fence holes or clearing brush or blasting mildew off gutters I’d drive the cart down the bumpy gravel road between the barn and the garage and smoke a cigarette in the friscalating dusklight. Whatever I chose to do that evening felt hard-earned and well-deserved. I don’t think I saved any money that summer and I had no particular place to be in the fall. And one dusty afternoon I had to lop off a sheep’s dook-crusted tail with a pair of wire cutters. But most days I wonder if I’ll ever be that professionally content again.


Michael McGrath

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Michael McGrath (@marcomcgrath) is a writer and hedge trimmer.