Home Vashon Living For the Record: My Neighbor Dan Is the Man

For the Record: My Neighbor Dan Is the Man

For the Record: My Neighbor Dan Is the Man

Or The Day Big Red Refused to Move

Happier times: A man and his new riding mower…vroom, vroom

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.

Gracie and Boz sizing up my mood, then opting to take a nap. They will revisit the idea of begging for treats later.

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.”

“uh, huh”

“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.”

Freshly mown grass and the sound of silence (and a normal pulse rate)

Croquet anyone?


  1. Another laugh-out-loud, well-written piece here. Maybe you should write a book when you aren’t mowing the lower 40. I’m sure your kind neighbor appreciates all your talents too – especially your culinary ones. And the lawn looks super…

  2. Tom…I am laughing so hard…I can hardly type. I sooooo get where you are coming from. Glad to say I am not the only one. By the way, your yard and newly mowed grass looks divine! I am waiting to see what kind of pie you gift Dan. I am sure it will be delish! Maybe he can come by the Westcoast of BC one day…I might need him too!:) Although, we don’t have a ridem mower…we do have lots of other issues tho…can you come Dan…please pretty please?

  3. What a great post, Tom! I think we can all relate to the experience of “mechanical frustration” and the joy of having the mechanically gifted swoop in and save the day. 😉 And yes, if I’m ever out in your neck of the woods, I’ll happily accept your invitation to play croquet. I think it’s a dying “art form.” Your yard and house look gorgeous now. 🙂


  4. Hilarious! Seems to me I heard the same “What a piece of crap! How come everything falls apart after minimal use. ” …around here yesterday when the blower gave up the ghost. Oh dear! Can you send Dan the man our way?

  5. I’d come play croquet on that perfectly green and mowed lawn anytime.
    That’s a funny frustrating story about your mower. If it weren’t for the fact that your place is so stunning and comfortable, I’d recommend you move to a condo somewhere in the Southwest where they grow cacti instead of grass…

  6. I reeally want your life:) most especially, your adorable bullies:) Seeing all that green and reading all that you grow, brings out every ounce of jealousy in me! Not much green here in the inferno otherwise known as AZ!! 🙁 LOVE reading your blog:)

  7. Tom
    Who cares if the house is all Martha Stewart action or not?
    Give me outside any day! wee!! Let’s play! (garden,
    water, yard work,play with the dogs!) Oh, I’m hungry now, let’s go make some food! Wow! how did this house get so dirty? I gotta clean it…..After
    I eat, then go back outside, time passes,Oh,I’m
    hungry ,it’s dinner time, Wow! how did this house get so out of control! After dinner…..ha,ha
    I like/love outside! and I just love your beautiful
    piece of paradise 🙂
    P.S. When I visit I’ll bring the croquet set, I think it was bought at Sears! 😉 LOL

  8. Had an airline pilot neighbor in Seattle who’s garage made the local Sears look like a 7-11. Need a trailer jacked? No problem, Need your pool pump revamped? No problem. I swear that man could fix a 747 engine at 30,0000 feet, with no oxygen. Precious, precious people to have as friends and neighbors. Shower Dan with pie

  9. Great story! What a relief to have a neighbour like Dan – one who takes ‘special treats’ as payment vs money!
    I had an episode with my ‘Frankenmower’ yesterday & had to add duct-tape to the hose clamps, zap straps & electrical tape holding the re-bar on to the handle keeping it attached to the machine.
    If a ‘Reel’ mower salesman came to this town & would demonstrate on my lawn, I might be pursuaded to purchase one…

  10. That is one pretty lawn mower. I hate it when new expensive things don’t work properly. The conversation with the repair man, particularly the part where you told him you’d bring the lawn mower in while thinking no flippin’ way, is classic.

  11. Truly, Tom, you are one of the most upbeat and optimistic people I know—even though I don’t really know you! So, how do you deal with the blahs and the “downturns?” Perhaps they never creep in at Tall Clover! You radiate contentment and deep and profound joy. Thanks for sharing!


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