Or The Day Big Red Refused to Move
No doubt my neighbor and friend Dan has enjoyed (make that endured) the moniker Dan the Man his whole life. Well, I’m here to tell him to accept the title proudly and embrace his awesomeness, because Dan, you truly are the Man. So where is this bro-mance coming from? For starters, Dan is a mechanical genius, or better said, a genius with all things mechanical.
I think I’m a smart guy (think is the operative word here), but Dan has that innate gift of really understanding processes, outcomes and mechanical relationships. He’s my go-to guy when I’m stumped on how to fix something. He quietly ponders, makes the right inquires and then magically has a solution. I’d pit him against IBM’s supercomputer Watson any day.
So yesterday, when I was taking advantage of the first warm, dry day in months, piloting my riding mower through the nose-high reeds that I call lawn, my mower stopped. Let me rephrase that, my relatively new, warranty-just-expired, 44-hours-of-use mower that cost more than my truck, stopped moving. (Perhaps a sign that I should eat lighter lunches.)
Mind you Big Red is still running, just not moving. For the next half hour I try everything, and I mean everything that my mechanically-challenged mind can consider. Frustration mounts as I kick the tire, grunt a little, and devolve into a Nancy-Kerrigan-inspired cry/whine: “Why? Why? Why?” And so my meltdown and tirade begins.
“What a piece of crap! How come everything falls apart after minimal use. I remember when the brand Craftsman meant something. It’s a lawn, not the Serengeti or the fertile central plains of the Pampas. Is it too much to ask that a riding mower does its job of letting you ride and mow? Is 44 hours of use, the new timeline of planned obsolescence? (And there is a gauge to remind you of this.)
All the while, Boz and Gracie look on from the porch, smart enough to know this is not a good time to beg for a treat.
With money being tight, it was all I could do to call one of our local repair shops to make an appointment. Within one sentence of our exchange, I realized I would have had a better chance asking Nero for a fire extinguisher than this employee for help.
“I’m calling regarding mower repair.”
“My riding mower is running but not moving.”
“Well I wanted to bring it in to have it looked at.”
“Any idea what it might be?”
“It could be a lot of things, won’t know until you bring it in.”
“Any idea how long that will take?”
“Depending on the problem, could be one, two, three weeks, maybe even four.” (Let me interject, based on earlier experiences, I know to double all his figures whether cost or time related.)
“Okay, once I get it in my truck I’ll bring it over.”
“Sounds good.” (Translation: can I hang up now? I’ve got a tin of corn nuts and crossword puzzle to get back to.)
At that moment, standing on principal and an half-mown lawn, I swore I’d pluck the grass with tweezers before giving them my business.
Now what? And then, I received a divine sign. Like the heavens opening up and a chorus of angels descending upon me, I heard a magical din, a din created by Dan, hammering away on some exceptionally cool project no doubt, just a orchard field away. I was desperate and Dan never seems to mind teaching Tom how to fish…or plumb…or construct…or….
I hopped the fence and headed over. He was most welcoming (I would have run the other way if I saw me coming) and obligingly said he was happy to take a break and return with me to investigate the mystery of the immobile riding mower. I turned it on and he said, “probably just a belt.” I turned it off and held down the clutch for him as he worked his magic under the chassis like a heart surgeon with a tee time.
“What do you mean, done, Dan?”
“It’s fixed. The belt just came off. Now it’s back on and it should ride fine.”
I saddled up and flashed him a crossed-fingers sign to his amusement, and road off toward the Rhodie bed. I jumped off and pogo-ed up and down like a twelve-year old, happy dance, happy dance, happy dance. Dan smiled (and hopefully didn’t think his neighbor was a certifiable nutcase).
I showed him some of my latest projects, courtesy of his previous input, freed him from my clutches and then sent him home with a jar of jam and my unwavering devotion. Yep let me just say it again, DAN IS THE MAN. Thanks Dan, there’s a pie in your future.
Oh, and just one more thing. Sorry Sears, I didn’t mean it. Craftsman, you had me at “hello.” You had me at “hello.”