By: Wayne Brown
My years here on earth have taught me a few things. Some of the things were bitter pills to swallow because they were situations in which I had to face myself confront my own weaknesses; accept them, and then formulate a direction toward a particular solution which took into account those limitations of the moment. Other experiences were just funny and they still make me laugh. Everyone needs the ability to laugh at themselves from time to time….the process keeps us from taking ourselves too seriously when we come down from one of our intellectual highs. I would like to share one of those funny experiences with you here in this piece so that you too can laugh with me…at me.
Several decades back, I was just coming off of adjusting to my new found state of divorced. I was living in a relative barren-house, sleeping on an inflatable swimming pool mattress and hoping I would get my income tax refund real soon so that I could go out and buy a washer and dryer to preclude my frequent trips to the local public wash. My luck was not the greatest and I was convinced that my imaginary roommate must be non-other than “Ol Murphy” himself who invented the term, “S**t Happens!”
Spring time was in bloom and the grass was growing like newborn baby calves. In an attempt to offset that growing streak I pulled the old well-used lawnmower out of the garage and set to work manicuring my acreage. After a couple of laps around the front yard, the old Briggs & Stratton gave up the ghost and threw a rod right through the side of the cast iron engine housing. Well, there ya go…Ol’ Murphy at work once again.
I was leaving town and the yard had to be mowed. It was time to get the credit card out and take the hit for a new mower. There was just enough daylight left to run to the hardware store up at the corner, find the mower on a deep deal, load it into the trunk and get back to the house to finish the yard. This was a must as I was headed out of town on business the next day and would be gone for several days. The yard was going to get mighty shaggy by the time I returned and my mailbox would be full of death threats from my caring neighbors.
Entering the local Ace Hardware up at the corner from my house, I perused the store for the lawnmower display and that is when my eyes found the stuff dreams are made of…sitting there in the front window like an official Red Ryder Daisy B-B Gun…there it was. A shiny red lawnmower powered by a big Briggs and Stratton engine complete with handlebar mounted controls and, to my absolute thrill, a rear-bagger assembly to catch the clippings. To top it off, it was fully assembled, ready to run, and priced to sell. I glanced about to make sure Murphy was nowhere around. I could not afford to miss this one and my time was running short.
I grabbed the salesperson and quickly made the deal specifying that I had to have the mower displayed in the window…not one like it packed into a box and ready for assembly. He reluctantly agreed probably not liking the idea that he would have to assemble another one if he let that one go. But, being the good businessman that he was, he cut the deal. We pulled the mower out of the window and pushed it out to the car. The salesperson helped me lift it into the trunk for transport. Since the handlebars would not fold down, I had to tie the trunk lid open with bungee cords for the short trip back home.
To say that I was excited to be the owner of a new, red rear-bagger was the understatement of the year. I was already in a fantasy lawn cutting daze imaging my rear-bagger as it glided across the wide expanse of my lawn not leaving one grass clipping behind and giving me that “well-manicured” look on my lawn that would be the envy of my neighbors for months and months…heck, maybe years. In the depths of my fantasy I forgot that I was hauling anything in the back on my way home and drove rather fast trying to get there and get started with that mowing.
Arriving back at the house, I parked the car on the driveway and immediately took the bungees off the trunk. I then reached in and picked up the lawnmower moving it out of the trunk and on to the surface of the driveway in one easy motion. Immediately my mind raised a question as I remembered back to the store and how the salesman and I had struggled to get the cumbersome lawnmower with the rear-bag on it up and into the trunk. Getting it has been a piece of cake…an easy one man job. Something had changed but what? I examined the new mower as it set quietly there on the driveway walking around and around it looking at each detail…what had changed? Then it hit me, oh dear God! The rear bag was gone. I rushed back to the open trunk and looked inside…not there either! I remembered the bag being there when we the mower was loaded into the trunk. How could it…oh no, my rush to get back to the house and start mowing must have dislodged it from its perch along my route back to the house from the hardware store. My God, could my rear-bag assembly be laying out there somewhere to be picked up. It was time for action….to the Bat-Mobile, Robin!
I pushed the new mower into the garage, slammed the trunk, and roared out of the driveway to retrace my route from the hardware store. More than half the run was on residential streets which interconnected to the main drag leading up to the hardware store. The sun was just setting and dusk was rapidly setting in impairing my ability to search visually along the route. I drove along in my rush glancing from one side of the road to the other for the rear bag and not paying much attention to the road in front of me. Suddenly there was this noise coming from the car; a low scrapping sound at first like maybe my tailpipe had fallen loose and was contacting the ground. The faster I went the louder the noise became. I decided that I needed to pull over and assure myself that the car was okay.
I got out of the car and walked completely around it. Nothing. I went to the rear and looked at the exhaust pipe…it was fine. I went to the front and raised the hood gazing into the engine bay. Again I found nothing out of the ordinary. I then got down on my hands and knees and looked under the car. There it was! Something had lodged under my car and was causing the awful scraping noise that I was hearing. I reached under and grabbed the object yanking at it again and again until it finally dislodged and came out into view. I could not believe my eyes…it was my precious rear-bagger. Apparently it had been lying in the street I had not noticed it as I looked about in search of it. I had dragged it several hundred feet on the asphalt. The frame was crushed and the heavy canvas material making up the bag had several holes torn in it. The bag had also scooped up about a hundred pounds of gravel on its short trip under the car demonstrating the efficiency with which it might have worked with on my lawn. Sadness was upon me as I stood staring at the twisted wreck that was once my precious rear-bagger.
I considered going back to the store and hoping they would have pity on me…maybe give me a new rear-bag. Then I imagined them in the back of store laughing as I left….Gee what a dumbass! No that idea was out. I also dispensed with the idea of going and buying a new one since the salesman would remember me just buying the rear-bagger and ask why I wanted another bag? No that was not a viable solution as I would have to tell him what I had done with the original bagger. The light was growing dim, I had to get back home and mow the grass.
The loss of the rear-bag was tragic for me. It created a certain psychology within my head that I could not shake. I mowed that night but not in the happy, gleeful manner in which I had fanaticized on my trip home with the new mower. No, all I could see was the empty place where the rear-bagger was supposed to be mounted as I watched those grass clipping come flying out the discharge outlet and randomly shower over my yard. I could forget “Yard of the Month”. I was feeling sorry for myself; feeling cheated and deprived while Ol’ Murphy stood silently over by the garage laughing to himself at my current circumstance. It was a difficult time for me to say the least.
Almost a decade would go by before I was in position to actually own and use a rear-bagger. I took it in stride buying the lawnmower and transporting it home without celebration. I mowed the yard with the rear-bagger in place and functional this time around and suddenly there was an epiphany which immediately relieved all those pent up years of anger driven by the initial loss of my first rear-bagger. Suddenly, after emptying out that damn bag four or five times just to get the front yard cut, I realized how much I hated rear-bagger lawnmowers. The next day, I threw that rear-bagger in the trash knowing that the garbage man would seriously question my sanity at disposing of a perfectly good rear-bagger. I then went about my chore of mowing the rest of the yard smiling as the clippings of grass flew out of the discharge port and scatter themselves over the lawn surface. I glanced over my shoulder and caught sight of ‘Ol Murphy standing there…he wasn’t laughing anymore.
©Copyright WBrown2012. All Rights Reserved.
2 August 2012