Colorado 2020: Meeting Jo

Looking out over the landscape beyond our house outside of Boulder, CO the day before our fateful meeting with Jo.

This post continues the retelling of my AmeriCorps term in Colorado in 2020. The rest of this series can be found here. Note: Parts of the following post has been ’embellished’ for the sake of bad jokes. You’ll know which parts those are.

July 21, 2020 was a special day. That’s because it’s the day when my AmeriCorps crew and I met our main “boss” with the City of Boulder, the personification of fear itself: Jo.

The day started innocently enough. We drove our dirty van through a quiet, upper-class neighborhood of Boulder (although all of Boulder is upper class) and parked along a side street. We then disembarked, unloaded our tools, and hiked a short distance to a trail that bordered a row of houses.

The work we did that morning was the same as usual: we walked the trail, looked for problems, and fixed them. Our work went pleasantly enough, and foretold nothing of the horror that awaited us.

We finished our work on this trail before long, and then we set off on a scouting trip.

This scouting trip began with a surprisingly difficult trek up a heavily-eroded hill whose ‘trail’ consisted of tangled ruts (the trail had been created by people walking up the hill, and not built intentionally). This trail was held in place by wooden check steps, some of which were quite high, and not easy to climb.

Once we’d scaled the hill, we continued following a winding system of trails. Luckily these trails were shaded, and mostly easy to walk on.

The purpose of this scouting trip was to inflict pain – I mean to visit an area that we were scheduled to start working on soon. There was one trail project that was going to take most of our time in Boulder, and it was overseen by Kait’s (introduced here) supervisor.

That supervisor’s name was Jo. The city workers uttered this name in hushed tones, lest they attract the attention of its owner. No one knew where this “Jo” came from, but she possessed almost supernatural powers to make people laugh, and to turn the dullest of tasks into a joyful experience.

Like I said, the personification of fear.

As we continued our scouting trip, eventually we came to a shallow gorge. We descended this gorge, and when we were at the bottom, the skies darkened. A chill fell about us, we were enveloped in mist, and the animals became silent.

Looking up, I could perceive a figure through the gloom. The figure began to approach us, and with each step my terror grew.

That figure was Jo.

An actual photo of me meeting Jo. Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay.

Jo explained what we’d be doing for our next big project, but my dread was so great that I couldn’t listen. After her spiel, Jo showed us mercy, and allowed us to live.

We then headed home for the day, but home wasn’t the same, because Victoria had left. Victoria was a Project Manager with American Conservation Experience, and she’d been staying with us for the past several days to help us get situated in Boulder. She was an all-around positive influence, and I was sad to see her go.

Fortunately, Victoria left us with a plant and a nice note, which would be the last bit of kindness we’d receive before being handed over to Jo.

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