labor_03 photography by Maxine Helfman

A Cut Above    |    Lisa Garza
Restaurateur, caterer, and television personality

I mowed yards in junior high. I was the tomboy with the dress flying up. I’m sure my butt was hanging out the back. I had no shoes on, and I had skinned knees and skinned elbows, and I was climbing the trees. But I wanted to look cute. My mother was very practical and had limits for me on what she would or would not purchase, and I didn’t like that. So I decided I’m going to work.

That’s when I started mowing yards. I started with my yard, which was multiple acres. I had to use a riding lawn mower to mow it. And then I started mowing, really, all the yards on my street. I had a push mower and a riding mower. I would go knock on doors and be like, Hey, can I mow your yard for $20?

I remember one time we were going on vacation, and I had to train this girl to cover my yards while I was gone. I’m sitting on the back of the riding mower, showing her how to work it, and she’s sitting in the front. And she pops the gear, and I went flying off the back. I hooked my legs. That was my instinct, to catch myself. I should’ve just let myself fall off the back. My leg got all shredded in the tire. She’s screaming and freaking out. And I’m like, You’ve got to stop the mower! I was literally trapped between the wheel and the wheel cover. I still have a scar to this day on my leg where I fell off the back of that thing.