There is drama everywhere or at least wherever I go. I don't exactly create it but my bullshit detector is on high always, can't help it, it just is.
Here on Creekside Farms Road on the edge of Austin, Texas I was surveying the bamboo thicket, contemplating hollowing out a space for my truck. There was a crew down the hill a ways working on remodeling the teardown. The jefe drove up to bring some food and drink to his son who sits all day and night in a cab-over camper in the back yard. The kid was kicked out of a group home for being obnoxious and Jose asked Jenny if he could live there “just for a week or so” until they found some land to put the pile of trash camper. Well, a couple of weeks is now over two years.
I asked him if his crew could take the morning to do some bamboo removal for me. “Oh, we busy down there,” Jose said.
“Yeah but I'm leaving my truck and flying out tomorrow,” I said. “You'll be working on that remodel for months.” I was expected in Tacoma in a couple days for Mom duty while my sister was out of town.
“I'll ask the other guy,” he said. One of the illegal Hondurans had been chipping away on the bamboo by the teardown with his chainsaw.
Jose was not nice or cooperative and not happy to see me. It's because I'm a threat to him, one more potential person who might convince Jenny to get rid of his crazy son in her backyard.
Face it, Jenny needs a man. I'm not being sexist. Jenny needs a woman. Jenny needs a partner to go over things with and decide what to do. If she had a significant relationship that crazy young guy would not be living in her backyard.
Jose is Jenny's man. He's her mechanic (though her daughter's car sits for weeks un-repaired in the driveway), he's working on remodeling her teardown, and he has his mentally-disturbed twenty-four year old kid parked in her rundown camper, which she would like to haul to the dump. Jose is illegal and is looking for a green card. He's already impregnated two women up here but it didn't lead to marriage, which he needs to get documents.
He didn't want his crew to help me. I texted Jenny and asked her if she would lend them to me for the morning, I figured two or three guys for four hours. She texted back yes.
I found an axe and started chopping. I laid down strong twine and tossed the sometime thirty foot long bamboo on the twine. When there were about fifteen or twenty poles I pulled it tight, tied a knot, and hauled the bundle out of the way. I realized I didn't need the crew and axed down a tunnel through the bamboo for a protected spot for my truck.
After two hours I was soaking in the Texas humidity and had a blister on my finger, even though I was wearing thick leather gloves. When Jenny got home she told me that Jose had said he told me to just go down to Home Depot to find some guys to help me.
“Well, he didn't tell me that,” I said. “It's just not very nice that he wouldn't lend me his crew but it was fine, it didn't matter anyway, I'm doing it myself. Another hour or so in the morning and I'll be done.” So besides being a manipulator and a user Jose is a liar.
Then Jenny didn't like where I was going to leave my truck. “We're going to have to move it,” she said. “Usually people leave their cars down by the pond. We'll be taking out all the bamboo.” She didn't like the row I had left for shade.
There is a massive amount of bamboo between the teardown and the party barn by which I was going to leave the truck. “Well, why don't you start by the teardown and work your way up to the party barn? That will take months or years!” I said.
“No, we have the dumpster now and one of the guys has a chainsaw,” she said. “We can fill it up however many times we want in the next two weeks for three hundred dollars.” (That turned out not to be true—the dumpster could only be hauled away once.)
“Well, those guys don't seem too interested in the bamboo,” I said.
“True,” she agreed.
“And you were going to do it in May and nothing happened.” I had given her three hundred dollars when I stopped through in the spring on my way to Mexico to pay for half of a professional crew for a day.
Jenny needs a man but I can't tell her how to live her life. Jose is her man, but Jose, like most, is out for Jose. Probably within a week or two of me leaving Jose will invent a reason, a lie about why my truck needs to be moved. Or why he has to use it for something. That teardown is another thing. “I hope that project doesn't just consume you for years,” I said.
“Oh no!” She said. Such certainty.
“Well, if you do get a renter they might not like it that there's a crazy man in the backyard.”
“I was thinking about that,” she said.
“I mean, there's probably no other crazy guy in the neighborhood like him.”
“Oh no, there's others!” she said and told me about a guy who lives in his well-off father's house on the nearby hill. I've met that guy and he's harmless.
“Maybe you should give six months notice,” I said.
Jose will take advantage of Jenny however he can. And she will try to take advantage of him, paying an illegal less than a professional carpenter. I always say hire the pros but Jose and his illegal Honduran crew may be the best chance she has to fix up that teardown dump.
I should say to Jose: “Dude, I know what you're doing. Get your kid out of there in a week or I'll tell ICE to pick you up!” I have always been knee-jerk liberal sympathetic to immigrants but now I'm starting to wonder.