Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Hardware Savant, a Nine Year Old with a Tattoo, and a Question for Married Women, Oh, and a Working Lawn Mower, too.

Two weeks ago, had it been two weeks since I mowed the grass, the yard would have been distinctly bushy. Yet the fortnight that has passed since the Adventures With The Damaged Mower, saw very little rain. It really isn’t as bad as I thought it might be. But back to The Adventure; you might be surprised at how inept the people are when you go to one of those Giant Hardware Stores or you might not be. The idea of repairing a machine instead of buying a new one is alien and doesn’t address the bottom line as well. Worse, there is a new generation of people who never had to, was never in a position, where repair was a necessity, and they’ve always had the money to throw away and replace rather than fix what was broken.

The first Giant Hardware Store I went to was devoid of sentient life.  After asking three different people to speak with me about mowers, or parts for mowers, I wound up giving a small class on mower parts to an employee who took notes and was amazed at what the bottom part of a mower looked like. This is where the blade goes. This is the bolt that holds the blade in place. This part holds the blade onto the shaft, yes, it is a separate part, have you a wrench, I’ll show you. Wow, that is amazing, I’ve never see anything like it. Thank you. Thank you, very much. He took photos with his cell phone.

The Giant Hardware Store across from the Mall was little better. They had a goodly selection of mowers but the young man, who looked as if he might be a football player, had never actually seen a push mower operated in person. He explained that he was raised in an apartment, lived in an apartment, and really, he had never mowed grass in his entire life. He did, however, once use a weedeater and could recognize the brand if he saw it again. He was able to tell me he could find parts for any mower online. But I would have to order them through a third party for they did not order parts at the store itself.

Meanwhile, this random guy walks up and explains that the new electric mowers are iffy. I should wait until the next generation until I buy one. He goes down the line of equipment giving advice and opinion on everything. For a second I figure he’s off clock and does work here but when I asked he tells me, “No, but this electric mower won’t be any good until they get the bugs out” and then he’s off to the electric generator next to it. Amps, volts, how big the fuel tank is, and then the next one, in comparison…As I stand there he simply goes down the aisle, as if I am following along, and gives an opinion, out loud,  on each and every piece of equipment, a savant of the Giant Hardware Stores.   

I went to one of those Farm and Tractor stores that sell cowboy boots and fencing supplies as well as yard equipment. I think because they sell cowboy boots and cowboy hats the people who shop there feel a little bit more like farmers than they do at one of the Giant Hardware Stores. Get a couple of them together and they’ll start saying things like, “I was down there at the tractor place and picked me up some supplies” and this makes them all sound like they’re home on the range down at the subdivision.  This one was being manned by a nine year old girl who told me, among other things, she was a freshman in college and was going to attend her first class in September, she was saving her money for a car, but not a new one, a used one, she is getting a new lap top, an Apple because they rock, wants a new phone, three gee is so slow, she wants to live in a dorm room even though she is local, her boyfriend is a jerk and she isn’t speaking to him right now, she doesn’t care how many messages he sends to her, has a tattoo but can’t show it to me, and she knows nothing about lawn mowers except the one her daddy has goes really fast and it scares her but she thinks it’s fun. She daddy is the manager and he won’t be back until one. I take a long hard look at this person. She’s nine. Maybe ten, but that’s pushing it. So I ask her how old she is and she rolls her eyes at me, “I know, I know, but I’m eighteen.”  I look at her. She looks at me. “Uh…” I reply and there is no way in hell she’s an adult. She puts her hands on her hips and glares at me.  I want to ask for an ID.

Okay, as an aside, how young does a woman have to look before dating her is creepy? Granted, if she’s old enough to be in college she’s old enough to have a boyfriend, but does her boyfriend realize she looks nine? Sure, she’s adorable, but in a nine year old sort of way, a kitten sort of way, not a woman sort of way. I dated people her age, if she’s really eighteen, when I was half the age I am now but I do not remember any of them looking this damn young. There isn’t anything about her that seems the least bit mature or attractive or anything. I worry about a young man who would date a girl that looks like she isn’t old enough to be at Starbucks by herself. I’ve seen trees with more fully developed secondary sexual characteristics than this girl.

Quite by accident I stumble upon a family owned small engine repair shop. There’s a woman in there who is manning the place and she knows how to greet a customer and she nods when I tell her what happened. “If you can live with the bent shaft, yeah, it’s going to go on you eventually but less than twenty gets you the part to get running again.”  I’ll have to bring the part or the model number in but she has three or four on hand. She doesn’t miss a beat and she doesn’t waste any time. She also looks old enough to drink and looks like she does. That helps a lot right now. We talk for a while and just when I think things might be getting interesting she mentions her husband.

Truthfully, married women, do you talk to a guy for a while and when you think he might be edging towards something more personal do you then decide to make mention you’re married? I mean, do you do that sort of thing intentionally? I think there are some married women who want to know they can still get a man’s attention but they don’t really want it. It’s like putting a painting in a gallery just to see who wants it.
The next time I am in town I bring the part, it matches, and when I get home I’m up and running in just a few minutes. The blade seems to be spinning evenly enough. It’s cutting well. I push the thing around for two hours, get the front and the back mowed again, and nothing goes wrong. Yet the grass isn’t as high as I thought it would be. Yes, it hasn’t rained but there are places where the grass is always thick. This time around it seems like the grass is weak and nearly scraggly. Is it already that late in the season? One third of August is gone but there is a lot of it left to go. The heat recently has been unbearable. Surely Summer hasn’t already begun to slip away, has it?

The rain comes down in buckets right after I finish mowing. Maybe the grass will return but I realize that next week August will be half over. The week after that only one week will remain. I would suspect it would be the last week when I notice the grass isn’t growing as well, but not yet, not yet.
Surely, time hasn’t slipped by this fast this Summer, has it?

I wonder if the man who has the very young looking daughter has these thoughts when he sees her getting ready to go to college.
Take Care,



  1. I can identify with your lawn mower parts quest. My 7 year old mower’s wheels were all worn out. Went on a quest for replacement wheels, and finally learned I'd have to order them from the manufacturer. Only problem was the 4 wheels would cost $147 plus shipping. That's half the price of a brand new comparable mower. I picked up 4 new wheels this morning -- all attached to a new mower. Can't imagine why 4 new wheels should be worth $147. After all, they're made out of plastic, not platinum!

    1. I am no one's handyman John but I just can't toss a mower that will still run. But everyone I've spoken to has the same issue with trying to repair: the parts cost more than the whole.

  2. C’mon Mike, a woman working at a job dealing with the public, shouldn’t have to give a second thought to whether a customer knows she’s single or married. I’d bet a lot of money that dirty old men are NOT in the job description.

    1. She was within age range, Bruce and very friendly. And I took a shower before I left home, so there.