When my brothers and I were kids we were given chores. We were expected to do little jobs around the house to keep things livable. In the summer time, one of those chores was to cut the grass every Saturday.
My dad expected this chore done rain or shine. Unfortunetly, our house sat on a low-lying lot, which held water like a swamp after it rained. My dad didn’t give a hoot in hell about that. In those days there was no arguing with the man, that is unless you wanted to be talking out the side of your mouth for the rest of your life.
Our tool for mowing our swamp was a thing I liked to call the Frankenmower. I don’t know where it came from, or how it came into our family’s possession, but it was all we had. It was the most cantankerous, un-holy contraption I have ever had the displeasure to come across.
Most lawn mowers would start after the first or second pull on the cord. Frankenmower had a complicated procedure to get it started; only my dad knew how. God help you if that mower died in the middle of mowing. Dad would cuss you up one side and down the other for making him go through that whole procedure again.
I hated Frankenmower. It didn’t even have a company logo on it as if who ever built it didn’t want to be known. I often would imagine my father as a mad scientist creating it in a lab from the corpses of other mowers and shocking it to life in a lightning storm, laughing insanely, screaming, “It’s alive!”
My brothers and I were expected to take turns with Frankenmower until the front and backyard were cut to dad’s specifications. This required some skill and lots of luck in transferring the machine to the backyard from the front in a fluid movement without killing the engine.
One Saturday my brother Joe and I were taking our turns with the demon mower. When our turn was over we would go back inside to be in the air conditioning and watch cartoons. This particular day was very hot. The yard had so much water in it that the side ejection port was shooting out more water than grass. This increased the chances of killing the engine and incurring the wrath of Dad.
The job was becoming dangerous and neither Joe nor myself wanted to be the one who killed Frankenmower; plus I just really wanted to watch cartoons. Joe came in after one of his turns and I refused to go back outside to take my turn. This led to a stand off where neither of us would go back outside, Frankenmower was running the whole time we were arguing. After running out of gas it died. My Dad hearing this from the front yard assumed we were finished and came to inspect our work.
He found Frankenmower not only dead, but also out of gas, and the yard partly finished. He came into the house through the sliding back door with a look on his face that would turn even the most hardened of men’s guts to water.In his “I’ll kill you voice” he said, “Who in the Hell left the mower running!”
I nearly pissed myself and from the look of fear on my face he knew I was the one. In a round of blows, that would make a Mike Tyson fight look long in comparison, my father gave me a quick beating. He snatched me up by my right arm and leg and pitched me into the backyard like a Frisbee.
I landed belly first and slid for a few feet, sloshing in the swampy muck of the yard. When I came to, I wondered if anyone got the license plate number from the truck that hit me. My irate father informed me that not only would I be the one who had to restart Frankenmower; I would cut the rest of the yard by myself.
I learned a couple of things from this experience. First, even if you are not the only one responsible for completing a job, don’t think you can sit back and rely on others to do it all. Second, if you are going for instant gratification make sure what you want is worth the beating you will take for it later.