I should have known….
Those four words would make a nice tattoo on my forehead, a constant reminder not to go near the mower again. If only I had been smart enough to get them “writ large” on my bony pate before this summer. This summer, it was as though the gods of the mower underground decided to show me just how far away from all things lawn and mower I should be.
This chain of disaster, like most, started innocently enough. The first time the mower just waved a little warning flag.
It was a simple case of running out of gas on the side of a hill. It took my mechanically-inclined husband and our neighbor about an hour to figure this out, however, because the operator (that would be me) insisted I filled the gas tank before I started. I did put gas in…but filled was not the word Pat used when he and Jim finally lifted up the seat, spun off the top and looked inside.
The second time, Pat was at Spring Carlisle so I thought I would surprise him by mowing. Of course, I was riding around, literally in circles, mowing the back yard as fast as I could when suddenly, the mower choked and the blades below the deck stopped spinning. As soon as I got off, I knew why. I had managed to suck about 20 feet of a 50 foot hose up under the deck.
The deck would not lift up off the ground so I spent the next 90 minutes using a long-handled shovel as a lever, lifting the deck about 2 inches in the air and shoving my arm up to my elbow underneath to pry, pull and chop bits of hose off the blades. I almost made it but the last 4 feet were tightly wrapped around the center column.
Another 20 minutes with my cheek on the ground, my arm under the deck and my knees pushing the shovel down and the deck up and I knew it was all over. I would have to make the call. Wiping the mud off my face, I dialed my husband. He was on his way home and said he would take care of it.
He walked into the yard, looked at the mower and me, walked to the shed, grabbed the ramps and put them on the edge of the patio. Then he started the mower, drove it up the ramps and in 3 minutes, the hose was defeated, the last bits lying on the ground at his feet. This was when I should have known I was outclassed by my man and my mower. But no, there was one more embarrassing moment to come in this mower trilogy.
Two weeks ago, I was mowing, again, and suddenly the mower stopped, dead. All I could think of was I can’t call my husband again and tell him that the very expensive John Deere riding mower was dead and I was behind the wheel, again! It was the 3rd time in 4 months! How would I explain this one to him?
This time the dealership had to come out and pick the mower up on a flatbed. The hydraulics had quit – no power steering, no deck, no wheels….no, no, no… My husband tried to make me feel better but it was no use. I still felt like a mower murderer.
Five days later, when John Deere drove up and rolled our repaired mower down the ramps, I decided to try mowing one more time. Pat wasn’t there to stop me. And so the mower gods shot their last arrow.
I couldn’t have been on the mower more than 15 minutes when the right front deck wheel fell off. Here is where this story gets really, really ugly.
Whipping my cell phone out of my pocket, I call the John Deere dealership and ask for the Service Manager. When the poor innocent picked up the phone and said hello, I let him have it. Here follows some excerpts:
ME: “Fifteen minutes, wheel off, deck not working… You guys broke our mower.” When he finally managed to get a word in around my Daffy Duck imitation, he asked me a single question.
HIM: “Do you have the broken parts?”
ME: “What? You think I have the broken bits? I was mowing. I don’t have the parts. (Warning: if you are not mechanically inclined, don’t do this at home.) You guys broke it. You took the deck off.”
HIM: Ma’am, taking the deck off would not cause the bracket holding the front wheel to break.”
ME: “Really? Really?? Well it did break and I want this thing fixed.”
HIM: “I’m assuming you want it fixed quickly. How about tomorrow?”
ME: “Tomorrow? Are you kidding? Now, I want someone out here right now. I want it fixed, now.”
HIM: “I’ll check for the parts and will dispatch a mobile mechanic immediately ma’am.”
ME: “Good thing.”
I hung up. Then I went looking for the parts. And I found them. And I knew I had to call back, apologize, profusely, offer to pay for the parts, the house call and my very, very bad manners. I called, I asked for the Service Manager (to his credit he actually got on the phone and asked how he could help). And I apologized for my very bad behavior.
The mower was fixed that evening. I was still suffering from the embarrassment hangover you get when you have made a complete fool of yourself. An in-person apology with a box of handmade truffles from Little Sister’s Kitchen helped but nothing has helped with my considerable reluctance to saddle up the lawn mower.
But, there’s always next year!