FRONT LINE: Landscape worker shares struggles during COVID-19

2020 - landscape - front line

Before the COVID-19 pandemic froze most of California’s work force, Jose Mendoza balanced both a job and his own business. He would wake up at 5 am every morning to go to his job at a local golf course in Salinas, finish his shift, and then work on his own landscaping business.

Like Jose, thousands of Californians have multiple jobs in order to provide for their families. Many are now at risk of losing their employment, and in some cases their lives as well. We were able to chat with him about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected his life at work. Tell us what you do for work.

Jose Mendoza: “I work at a golf course in Salinas in the landscaping and maintenance department. I also have my own landscaping business, called Mendoza Garden Services Landscaping, where I provide landscaping services for residences across Monterey County.” 

SJEQ: What kind of restrictions has COVID-19 put on your job?

JM: “Unfortunately, I was temporarily released from my job at the golf course due to the pandemic. On my business, I had to stop multiple home projects for many of my clients, which hurts the business revenue.” 

SJEQ: What is your day-to-day look like at work during these times?

JM: “I am not working at the golf course right now, so I’m only focusing on my business projects. I still get up around 5-6am and drive to the houses that I’m still working on. The owners of the houses that I’m still working on are nurses and policemen, people who are also supporting our community. Thanks to them, I’m working hard because they’re giving me the opportunity and trust me to do a good job. I go over in the mornings while they’re at work, so it works out well since they’re not home and I try to be careful of how I work.” 

SJEQ: Have your coworkers been affected any differently at work?

JM: “All of my coworkers at the golf course are also on leave, which makes it difficult for those that rely on that income to bring food back to their homes.” 

SJEQ: What has been the most challenging aspect of working under these new conditions? What have been the positives for you?

JM: “It’s difficult because in this industry you receive your paycheck at the end of the month, after your job is done. At first, you don’t have any clients or references, so you need to go out and find them, distribute your business cards, and sell your work quality. Once you get your first clients, you have to go wherever they are, and sometimes you don’t end up making much profit. I’m a bit afraid that I may need to go through something similar after this crisis.

Some positive aspects are that I’m spending more time with my family. Before, I would arrive home late after multiple shifts. Now, I feel less stressed out, I’m resting more, but most importantly, I’m enjoying my time with my family.”