Monday, May 21, 2007

Saturdays Are For Accomplishing...

I awake Saturday morning with a sense of freedom, empowerment, and a definitive goal. It's spring, and after many years of training, enforcement, and all-around indentured servitude to my parents yard, a Saturday isn't a Saturday if you aren't doing something outside. Whether it's chopping down a tree, mowing the grass, digging trenches, overturning grass for a flowerbed: my father always managed to come up with something on Saturday that was of the utmost urgency to accomplish. Hence, Saturdays are for work. I get up, make a pot of coffee, flip through the channels briefly until I catch a weather report, then get dressed in work clothes. It is time.

Then Rich gets up. He hasn't endured the years of training, never viewed Saturdays as an "I must accomplish something" day, and is certainly not one to "find" something to do. He sits on the couch, turns on the television, and makes himself at home.

Me: I'm going out to mow the lawn.
Rich: Why?
Me: Whaddya mean, why? It's like 4 inches high!
Rich: I can do it on Thursday. I have off.
Me: Like you were supposed to do it last Thursday? No, I don't think so. By then we won't be able to see the dog in the grass, let alone the flowers in the flowerbeds...
Rich: But it's so nice out!
Me: Which is why I need to mow the grass. Grass requires mowing, you know.
Rich: Just sit with me for a little bit.
Me: (Sigh.) Why?
Rich: Because I haven't seen you in three or four days. We should talk.
Me: About anything in particular? Is something wrong?
Rich: No...
Me: Well, then, put on some clothes, we can talk outside. You can start the burn barrel, I'll mow the lawn.
Rich: I don't want to.
Me: You don't have to. I was just saying--
Rich: We can talk in here.
Me: I'm mowing the lawn.
So I put Hawthorne on his leash and make my way to the garage. Quick check of the gas and oil, and I'm good to go. I rev her up, back her out, and begin. Having lived next door to my mother's brother, Scott (next door isn't exactly correct, but it'd be to difficult to explain...), I know the proper way to mow a lawn. My father was happy as long as it was short. Scott's lawn needed to be cut in rotations:
  1. Week 1: Up and down.
  2. Week 2: Across.
  3. Week 3: Diagonal.
  4. Week 4: Opposite Diagonal.
This is Week 2. But to mow in such a way, one must first circle the entire perimeter at least three times so that the tractor has enough room to turn around at any given edge (as I do not have one of those fancy "turn-on-a-dime" lawn mowers...) Being as I have almost a full acre, once around the perimeter takes about, oh, three minutes on speed 3; so as you can imagine, after only two minutes riding ol' Betsy on Perimeter Base 1, I notice something is wrong as I stare across at the opposite end of the yard... The left side is noticeably shorter than the right side of the lawn deck. In fact, the left side of the lawn deck is plowing more than mowing. I stop the tractor and before I even get on bended knee to see what could be ailing Betsy, I notice it: The Flat. Left front side, actually. How I made it almost one full turn around the yard still boggles my mind.

Does Triple A do tractor tires? and quickly realize how silly this sounds. I have to call Home Depot. After all, despite their horrendous customer service, this is where I bought the tractor; ergo, they should have the parts for it, right?


After being on hold for twenty minutes and listening to Rich tell me how he can "mow the lawn on Thursday" (With a fuckin' flat? I retort), I get told they no longer carry that model of lawn mower, and therefore couldn't even order parts if I so desired...

I call my father. His calm, deep voice always knows who to call in these types of situations... He advises a patch kit, the neighbor who always has six different lawn mowers out front, and a trip to Wal-Mart for an air pump... I immediately have A Plan. Dad always knows what to do--he had three boys who, among other things, plowed over rocks, made bike-paths in the (rock-filled) woods around the house, and once, even drove his lawn mower off an eight-foot cliff. He's been there, done that, and probably smiles inwardly at the karma of it all (despite the fact that I wasn't the one who drove it over the eight-foot cliff...)

A trip to the neighbors proved fruitless. He'd gladly sell me one of his push-mowers, but he didn't fix ride mowers. Too complicated--push-mower fixing is a hobby. (Who knew? Must beat stamp-collecting...) So I make my way over the mountain to the Wal-Mart and fight the weekend crowds to find The Parts. After another dismal customer service fiasco ("You're looking for what? I'm sorry, I'll have to page someone"), I manage to find among the eight rows of car (and misc) parts the small shelf near the bottom which deals in flat tires and related issues (while still waiting for that "paged employee" to show up). I grab a patch kit, an air pump, and then I see "Fix-A-Flat." Intrigued, I quickly peruse the directions, and I see the magic phrase: "lawn tractors." I decide to buy it, along with the patch kit and pump. You can never place all your eggs in one basket, am I right?

I return home after an hour-and-a-half, completely pissed that I've yet to accomplish anything. Storm clouds are building on the horizon. I come in the front door to see Rich still on the couch, watching PBS. Something about "heavy water" and World War 2. He is such his father's son. Thank sky god for small favors that we don't have the History Channel.

Me: Good show?
Rich: I think I've seen it before.
Me: You aren't sure?
Rich: Nnnnnoooooo.... Shh!
Me: Can you come help me jack up the tractor?
Rich: Now?
Me: No, next week, if you could pencil it in, please.
Rich: (Puzzled look...)
Me: Yes, now!
Rich: I'm not dressed...
Me: I can see that. But I can't lift the tractor and place the rocks under it to hold the tire in the air now, can I?
Rich: Can't you?
Me: I'd. Rather. Not. (You'd think I was asking him to build a new deck on the house, wouldn't you?)
Rich: Fine.
I hear the implied "I'm going to resent you for the next five minutes" tone, but I ignore it. As stated, it will last for five minutes. He's a wonderful husband.

So I go out a read the directions for Fix-A-Flat in earnest. I've heard of the stuff, but never had a need
(opportunity?) to use it before. It seems pretty straight-forward:
  1. Place nozzle at 4 or 8 o'clock position.
  2. Attach hose to nozzle.
  3. Hold down button until liquid stops moving through the hose.
  4. Remove hose from nozzle.
  5. Drive vehicle around for 2 to 4 miles to ensure sealant covers entire inside surface of tire.
Easy enough, I think. Rich comes out of the house, remarks once more on how nice of a day it is (I can only assume he'd glanced out the window earlier?) and stands beside me at the tractor.

Rich: So...
Me: Can you lift the tractor up so I can put these blocks under it?
Rich: How about you lift, and I put the blocks under.
Me: Whatever, fine.
I lift the tractor.

Rich: Where do these blocks go?
Me: Under... under the... the metal bar thingy...
Rich: The what?
Me: Just stick them... under there! This... This is heavy...
I set the tractor down (assuming Rich figured out where to put the blocks) and grab the can. Following the directions, I begin squeezing the button. After about 10 seconds, white foam begins spewing out the other side of the tire.

Rich: Turn it off! Turn it off!
Me: The directions say--
Rich: You're spilling toxic stuff on the grass!
Me: The directions say--
Rich: Don't get it on your hands! Don't-- There's stuff everywhere!
It's like he's suddenly a member of the anti-Holocaust Crab Grass Association. Whatever. I stop pressing the button, detach the hose, and stare at the tire.

It didn't work. It's also starting to rain.

Me: Stupid motherfucking asshole...
Rich: I can mow--
Me: One more time, Rich. Say it one more time...
Rich: Well, I can...
Rich: Well...
I stomp inside the house, drenched with rain, toxic foam on my hands. Rich follows only to plop back on the couch at turn PBS back on.

I take a few moments to collect myself, eat some lunch, and decide the best way to remove the tire to repair the tube. I resign myself to the fact that maybe--just maybe--I may need to order a tire online. As Rich hops into the shower about a half hour later to prepare for work, I go outside in the rain to push the mower back into the garage and try to fix the flat. I place the mower in neutral, push it off the blocks, and--

The tire. It's not flat anymore!

I kick it. I press it with my hand. I blink a few times. I grab the Fix-A-Flat can and read it again. Nope: nothing that says "may take half an hour to repair tire." Nothing about time at all. It goes right from "remove nozzle" to "drive around."

I mow the lawn in the rain. My uncle would not approve. My father would. Saturdays are for accomplishing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hahahah! Glad you were able to finish the lawn! Been there done that! No fun!