June 27, 2013 | Volume 118, Issue No. 26

The short life of Smitty's Lawn Service

Wick's World

“What did you do, Wick, tick off the county road grader? It looks like he went over your lawn with his blade dropped,” said a neighbor.

Here’s the history of Smitty’s Lawn Service: There is no history. It never existed, except in my mind. It does not exist today and it never will exist.

The result of a conversation at Mrs. Smith’s house turned to the subject of our summer’s incredible workload. Mrs. Smith having recently retired from a highly stressful job remarked that she loved to mow lawns. She then offered to mow my lawn in Moose Lake for the summer. In the excitement of interpreting what I thought was her new career in lawn service, I eventually asked if she would come down and mow our other lawn in Eagan while her husband Smitty did an inspection on a third house we were in the process of buying.

The day they came, I hurriedly mowed the front half of the yard before it got too warm and then went out back to wash the lower deck. Meanwhile, Mrs. Smith and hubby showed up, jumped out of their wagon and immediately began mowing (actually re-mowing).

“Mrs. Smith, I mowed all of that front part; start here.”

She warily eyeballed me, said “Okay” and immediately continued to mow the lawn I had just mown.

“No, Mrs. Smith, start mowing here,” I said.

That really brought on a strange look.

“But the mower wasn’t cutting at all. I had Smitty lower the blades.”

Now I understood. “You can’t mow these lawns short in the Cities like you can up north,” I said. “You can’t lower the blades or you will scorch the lawn.”

No harm done, although later Mrs. Smith admitted my behavior led her to believe I had a stroke during heart surgery. This was something familiar to her for in the past she witnessed this with a close family member and thought I was showing the same signs.

“He thinks he already mowed that lawn,” went through her mind.  

Shortly thereafter, I had a conversation with my wife.  “Mrs. Smith is not starting a lawn business. She simply offered to help us out during our time of need like she always does,” my wife said.

That was when I realized that Mrs. Smith’s Lawn Service is not coming over with her mower to do my Moose Lake lawn. I freaked out.

“Karen, she can’t use our mower. It’s way too touchy.”  (Translation: It is a piece of junk on the verge of death.)

“You call Smitty and tell them to do our yard in Moose Lake before it gets any longer,” my wife insisted.

Now it gets hilarious. Smitty began mowing and did not realize that almost immediately the bolt holding up the left half of the mowing assembly fell out resulting with the left blade riding on the ground with the right blade mowing three inches higher. At some point Mrs. Smith took over mowing, meanwhile scorching a left trench while plowing across the yard.    

This is what resulted in the neighbor’s road grader comment. Even better quotes followed from the neighbors next door.

“What are they doing?”

“Maybe they’ve never mowed a lawn before.”

“No, they look like they’re around 60 — not possible.”

“Wick’s not going to like this. We better call him.”

“But we need to get to the graduation party or we’ll have food spoiling.”

“Oh! You know what? You know the practice football field where they mowed 'Rebels' on the field? I bet they hired them to write ‘Wick Fisher’ on the lawn.”

Well, Wick Fisher has fairly straight letters in it and maybe it could be mowed onto my lawn. But that was not the case at all. For this story to happen you would need to know the last 40 years of Wick Fisher’s life with tools and machinery of which the Smith’s were well acquainted.  Only they could think that maybe that’s how he mows his lawn.

“Cobble them up and run ‘em ‘til they drop,” was always my motto about machinery.

Ask Smitty’s about the last time they borrowed my carpet shampooer. After some name calling from a normally sugar-mouthed lady, the "piece of junk" went directly to the dump where it belonged.

As for the lawn mower, it still has a year or two left in it, although there will be no Smitty’s Lawn Service putting it into action.

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