To refresh my readers, and introduce him to my new readers, Yard Guy (aka Tom) is a recurring character in my world, and is the subject of my post “Redneck Environmentalism”.
Tom works for a body shop, but has a lawn mowing business on the side. His mother lives around the corner from me, and here is how we first became acquainted: On several visits to his mother to mow her lawn, he noticed I had a Camaro sitting in my driveway for about two months. And he wanted it. So over the fence in the back yard one day, his mother asked me what what I was asking for it. I told her the engine was dead, and he really might want to rethink the whole idea.
At that point I would have been happy to have someone pay to tow it out of my driveway. Well, not happy, exactly. I loved that car. Hard to explain how you can have such an attachment to a mechanical object. Especially a dead one. But the fact was that coming home every day to see it dead in the driveway was prolonging the misery. Still, I was very honest with my neighbor. And other than the engine, ha ha, there was nothing else wrong with it other than that it was 14 years old. It had a new clutch, a new windshield, a new radiator, and relatively new tires. It had a few cosmetic issues–like the edge of the driver’s side seat was frayed, the passenger side visor had snapped off, the cigarette lighter didn’t work, and the backup lights didn’t work. All things you could live with–there was just that one small annoying problem with the engine.
But Tom came to see me anyway, and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. He said he would take care of my lawn for the entire summer season (March through October), if I would give him the car. That’s about an $800 value, which is the pretty much the maximum I could have gotten for the car IF it was running. No brainer–I was definitely coming out on top in that deal. Since that time, which began in March 2009, I’ve gotten to know Tom fairly well. And Tom leads and has led an interesting life. And because he has a quirky family, he somehow always ends up in the middle of some drama not of his own making.
So this morning, he arrived early to mow his mother’s lawn, while it was still cool and hadn’t started raining yet. No sooner does he unload the mower than his mother says, I need you to take a ride with me across town to pick up “Mary” (his sister’s son’s wife). “She’s having a panic attack in the parking lot of Target and her two kids are with her”. Tom is just rolling his eyes, but he goes.
I learned that since the last time I saw him, his little dog Patches died. I kind of guessed that, because the last time he was here, although we didn’t talk, I saw that Patches wasn’t with him, and had she been able, she would have been. Patches was a white Chihuahua with apricot patches. She was 19, and mostly blind and mostly deaf. He would try to leave her in the truck, but that didn’t ever work. She would become hysterical.
Tom had to be within Patches’ sight or hearing at all times. So he would let her out of the truck and she would follow him around. She was always smart enough to stay out of the way of the mower. But as her sight and hearing worsened (and probably her cognitive abilites), she would wander off and get lost. So it has always been a neighborhood effort to keep track of Patches when Tom is around. No more.
Finally, I caught Tom this morning while he was still in my front yard to say that if he was going to do the back yard too (sometimes he has to split it up), to be careful, because there was a turtle out there. I happened to look out my kitchen window this morning to see it creeping along on its mysterious mission. Tom said, “Don’t worry. It will be fine until I run over it with the mower”. We both laughed heartily at that. (Remember Redneck Environmentalism.) Tom would never hurt a turtle on purpose–which is why I wanted him to know it was out there.
I suggested that when he left he could put it in his truck and take it to the lake nearby. Oh no, he said. I think we should leave it where it lives, and let it find its own way in life. See why I like Tom?