I’ll mow your lawn
Clean the leaves out your drain
I’ll mend your roof to keep out the rain
I’ll take the work that God provides
I’m a Jack of all trades
Honey, we’ll be alright

Growing up, all we  heard were Great Depression stories. Our Grandparents lived through it, our parents were born into it. God forbid you drop a penny and not dive under the car looking for it, you’d hear Great Depression Stories the rest of the day. When bread, butter and sugar is the closest you get to candy, a penny counts, you better believe it.

I’ll hammer the nails
And I’ll set the stone
I’ll harvest your crops when they’re ripe and grown
I’ll pull that engine apart and patch her up
Until she’s running right
I’m a Jack of all trades
We’ll be alright

For the last month, I’ve been building a patio, waterfall and back yard garden. Hard work is my friend, I like to kid myself. When I get to the point that I need some help, I put an ad on Craig’s List and I get more responses than you can imagine. You might read about the economy getting better, but I can tell you, there are people in my town, and probably yours, who get up in the morning, turn on the computer and try to find a way to earn money that day. No safety net there.

A hurricane blows
Brings a hard rain
When the blue sky breaks
Feels like the world’s gonna change
We’ll start caring for each other like Jesus said that we might
I’m a Jack of all trades
We’ll be alright

I needed a gutter and downspout put on my roof by the patio and some electricity run for the waterfall pump. My ad got 35 responses within a morning. I luckily selected a master builder, big Polish immigrant, who showed up with his college scholarship bound football playing son. They spent 6 hours on the job, wanting to make sure they did it right, even though they only bid a ridiculously small fee. “Hey, I’ve just got to do what I have to do to feed my family.” I’d gotten answers from guys with no tools, no driver’s license and no experience, I lucked into selecting a good man who cared about his work, and, yes I paid him double his bid.

The banker man grows fatter
The working man grows thin
It’s all happened before and it’ll happen again
It’ll happen again
They’ll bet your life
I’m a Jack of all trades
We’ll be alright

I had a lot of stone left over from my patio, so I decided to rip up Orlando’s God-awful excuse for grass in my backyard and put in a garden with flagstone paths. Needed 2 more tons of sand and a few stones. The stone yard’s independent delivery guy is a stone mason, he’d love to do the rest of my job and “fix” my work. It turns out, in the building boom, he did the stone work on my house. He makes deliveries on his “slow” days now.

Now sometimes tomorrow comes soaked in treasure and blood
Here we stood the drought
Now we’ll stand the flood
There’s a new world coming
I can see the light
I’m a Jack of all trades
We’ll be alright

The 30 bids to remove the sod ranged from $100 to $500. I picked a bid, not the lowest, from a guy who said he’d be there the next day. He couldn’t make it, his trailer broke down; so I re-posted and and the hundred dollar bid showed up again. Fred sounded like Sam Elliot and looked like Kid Rock without the guitar. Rock and roll might never die, but it can look like hell. He brought a friend; he’d also had been ridden hard and put away wet. The 2 of them, in 90 degree heat, dug up my yard with my shovels and were willing to do so for a total of $100. I came by to check a few hours later, bearing cold drinks and they were collapsed on the lawn, waiting for me to give them an advance so they could get gas and empty the truck. They came back and worked until dark, almost finishing, I said, “That’s enough,” and paid double. At 9:30 that Sam Elliot voice came over my cell, could I check the backyard? His helper had lost his share of the money.

So you use what you’ve got
And you learn to make do
You take the old, you make it new
If I had me a gun
I’d find the bastards and shoot ‘em on sight

I laid the paths, and 2 x 4′s to frame the garden and now I needed top soil. For the 4 yards I needed, it was cheaper to go back to Craig’s List than it was to by a bunch of bags of dirt from Lowes. The guy who answered first, at 9:00 last night, was running his Dad’s landscape business. Dad had died but Jim was going to be alright, if being a Jack of All Trades counts for anything. He’d filled up his day off Craig’s List and delivered my dirt at 5:30 on a Saturday afternoon. Luckily, the cash I gave him would cover the gas he needed badly.

I’m not going to draw any conclusions for you off this post, you can do that. But, if your day didn’t begin by opening up Craig’s List and looking for work, you are lucky enough.

I’m a Jack of all trades
We’ll be alright
I’m a Jack of all trades
We’ll be alright

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