By Jasmine Boyd
For Unwind magazine
The owner of Lawn Enforcement LLC injured his foot tragically in Aug. 2015, which changed his perspective on the business of landscaping.
The day of his accident started like every other day he worked. He awoke at 6 a.m. and started his first cut in the next hour outside of a daycare on Adams Street in Washington, D.C.
“I was cutting in a straight line, and a piece of paper was in the way,” said the owner. “I did not want to cut up the paper because it would look terrible on the grass.”
The moment the owner went to remove the paper from the grass was when he severed his toe.
“Instead of walking around the machine to pick up the paper, I reached from the side where there is an opening where the blade spins,” he said. “I mistakenly stuck my foot where the spinning blade was, and we all know what happened after that. I suffered some severe injuries.”
The owner entered a state of shock, and when he looked down, he saw the pavement where his toe was supposed to be.
“Everything felt like it was happening in slow motion,” he said.
There was so much heavy bleeding that it was soaking through his shoe and he had to compress the area with a T-shirt. As a result of the accident, the owner lost his second toe on his right foot.
Luckily, there was a man across street at the time that witnessed his struggle and rushed him to the nearest hospital. During their commute, he was transferred into an ambulance, which the driver had spotted at a traffic light.
It was especially hard for the owner to fully recover from his accident, physically and emotionally. He was in physical therapy for about eight months.
“I tried to find the will to move around, but I couldn’t leave the house,” he said.
Most of his physical recovery had a lot to do with resting and staying off of his foot as much as possible. However, his emotional recovery was a bigger challenge.
“Just the thought of actually missing a toe, how am I supposed to go to the beach or wear flip flops,” he said. “Or if I meet a new person, how am I supposed to feel comfortable taking off my shoe around them? How do you explain that to someone?”
During his emotional recovery, the owner relied on his family and friends to help keep his spirits high through his crisis.
He also said he played video games, wrote school papers for money and read up on several books about business. After the accident, he began to question if he wanted to continue landscaping.
“After everything happened and I got a chance to get better, I looked at the whole situation and realized that it could’ve been worse,” he said. “Everything happens for a reason.”
During his emotional recovery, he discovered what landscaping had meant for him and how that definition significantly transformed into something more meaningful after his foot injury.
“It means more now, than it ever did, because it seemed like the injury taught me a life lesson.”
After his injury, he decided to become more organized as a business owner and developed more efficient communication with his customers through a new invoicing system.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that around 200 landscape service workers die each year as a result of workplace injuries. After a sharp decline in 2013, fatal work injuries among self-employed workers increased 10 percent in 2014 from 950 to 1,047.
The owner decided to take steps to prevent future injuries. He used to do work with an older lawn mowing machine called Exmark, so he changed all of his equipment to safer models. He now uses a Wright Standard X machine to cut grass.
“The equipment I have now is much safer,” he said. “When I step off of the machine, the blade automatically cuts off.”