Monday, April 05, 2010

Bolens and Me

I've never blogged about a garden tractor/mower before, but I think I will.

Last week, Peg and I decided that I really did need to do what I could, as long as I could, in keeping up the house, etc. Since neither of us has the energy or the knees to hold hand(le)s with a rotary walk-behind mower any more, we've had to get other people to maintain the lawn, the leaves, the twigs, etc. Mostly, that's been the grandkids, but they're to the point where they have full calendars, already, so they're not going to be available much, any more. So, last Monday, Peg and I made the rounds of the Lowe's, Home Depot, Sears, and Ace websites, to see what sort of deals they had on riding mowers. After picking out the store that seemed to have the best, we drove over there.

They had this Bolens 38", 15.5 horsepower tractor-mower, like the picture, out front. On sale for $100 off normal price. Right next to it was a similar Bolens, 2 horsepower less, for the same price. They had others there, but the best buy was, by far, the 15.5 hp model, so we bought it. And a grass bagging attachment for it, which is sort of big and fancy itself.

Tuesday morning we hitched up our little utility trailer to Taz, went over there and had them load the mower and bagger on, and brought'em home. We also stopped on the way and filled up the mower with gas. After getting here, I coasted the mower off the trailer .. it's got a loading ramp attached .. put the little miracle battery charger/tender on the battery, and charged it up. Then I got on to crank it up and get it running.

Nothing. Turning the key did absolutely nothing. No lights, no starter, no nothing (except silence). So I called the store and got the guy in that department. He said the battery was bad, it happened all the time. I said no, it was fully charged. He said "They sit outside in the springtime (in front of the store) and you can't keep kids from sitting on them and turning the key on, and leave them on, etc. And it didn't seem to change his opinion when I reminded him they NEVER leave the keys in the mowers outside!

I went downstairs and jumped a wire from the battery post, to the battery terminal on the starter, and the engine cranked over immediately.

Good battery. Check.

Went back in, called, and asked to speak to the department manager. Told him about the mower, which seemed to already have gained some notoriety among store personnel. They said the store manager would call that day (Tuesday).

No call.

Wednesday, I called and got a nice lady named Robin in the sales department. She, too, had heard about my mower. She said she'd have them load up a new one and bring it out the next day (delivery trucks leave early), and swap out with me. I told her be sure to note that I had the 15.5 hp model, and I didn't want the smaller model (the engine itself is only about 2/3 the size of the 15.5, meaning it has to work that much harder, etc), and be sure I got the right model. She said OK.

Next day (Thursday) about noon, a very nice truck driver named Charlie pulls up, takes a forklift and brings my new power up the driveway and sets it down. He hits the key and it fires right up. Well, I thank him profusely as he prepares to pick up my old mower, and get real happy. Until I lift the hood.

Yup. 13.5 hp. 344cc instead of 500cc.

I point that out to Charlie, who gets really upset. Seems he's a guy who really likes to see happy customers. So he calls the store, makes sure (took 15 mins on his cell phone) they have one like I want, there, and then says he's taking both of them back and will bring my new one, which he will make sure runs, the next morning.

Now, I know he started his runs at 6am Thursday, but nonetheless, he calls back about 4 o'clock and says "I don't want to go home until I get you all set, so I'll be over in 20 minutes with your mower". And he was.

Fired right up .. YIPPEE .. so I rode it into the garage and started to put together the bagger attachment (it's a big deal).

Friday afternoon, I get it all ready and assemble the ductwork, then fit it to the mower. Except it doesn't fit.

Oh, the huge steel framework fits on the back, and all that, but the ductwork doesn't begin to fit the mowing deck. Since the real reason I wanted to get this thing done (really wanted to get it done Monday, not FRIDAY) was that there were these big embarrassing WEEDS sticking skyward in my small but ugly front yard.

By this time I figured I'm just going to mow the yard without the bagger. I'd show them weeds, by golly, and when I get the bagger I'll go back over and pick up the trash it left behind. So I did, all 5 minutes' worth.

Saturday morning, I went downstairs to try to figure this thing out. And I took the two following pictures:


Hmmm .. do you SUPPOSE 38" vs 42-46" might have something to do with it? Guessing it did, I went to the store , but Robin was tied up with another customer. When a gentleman named Jack approached me. I told him my tale of woe. He assumed the attitude:

"You got the RIGHT guy here and I'm gonna fix this WHATEVER it takes". When I started to tell him about the bagger, he said "Of COURSE it won't work .. the discharge chute is different size, the mounting holes won't line up, it just WON'T WORK!"

And he's 84.

Turns out he'd owned a mower shop for 30 years and just sold it to move to Birmingham. See .. he KNEW all about these problems. He'd Been There, Done That.

He ordered the right bagger while I was there, and assured me the day it comes in, he'll see it's delivered, if he has to toss it into his own pickup truck and bring it over personally. And I'd bet next month's social security he'd do just that.

See .. I finally found the right guy.

NOW. I'm not just sitting around, trying to think of ways to aggravate my carpal tunnel by typing goodness-knows-how-many words about a lawn mower. But think of a couple things:

  • How upset should I be? Can I let this affect my life ... beyond the condition of my yard?
  • Am I having any more trouble getting this straight than God did, getting ME straight?
  • Has all the interruption been any more painful for me than Calvary was, for Jesus?

This whole thing is kind of like my life. When the mower deal is done, it's going to feel good to be able to go out and mow the 3000 square feet of grass, have it bag up the leaves for me, and also to vacuum up the leaves (we live in a forest) off the 4000 square feet of driveway ... it runs clear around the house .. and know I'm taking care of what God has blessed me with here.

Which also makes me wonder if Jesus feels good when He cleans up our lives, and we turn to him to handle what all goes wrong despite our best efforts to get it right. When He comes through and takes care of all the problems we can't.

Guess you just have to find the right guy; One Who's experienced what you have. But Who got it right, the first time. And Who can handle your problem, if we'll let Him.

Maybe, like happened to me, last Saturday, the Right Guy will find you.




8 Comments:

At 11:14 AM, April 05, 2010, Blogger Kevin M. Crowder said...

Brilliant analogy Bob. But back to the mower shop and the digression of customer service in America. I have a decade of inside sales experience (shoes and cars) and I can tell you that the problem is systemic. Now I am all for corporate America--in the manufacturing sense. But the end game needs to resort back to the local shop owner who teaches the apprentice the value of the dollar and a the value of a smiling customer.

That 84 year old man knew the value of both.

 
At 11:23 AM, April 05, 2010, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Being old enough to remember how it used to be brings two things immediately to mind:

1) The fear of failure is gone. And it's the fear of failing that drives us to excellence.

2) It's the "age of entitlements". You don't have to earn the right to work somewhere. I'll never forget one of the first things I ever read as a young businessman in the 1950's; "Those who don't do more than they're paid to do, aren't worth what they're paid". That thought served me pretty well, particularly later, when not many people thought that way any more.

Thanks for the kind comment.

 
At 10:47 PM, April 05, 2010, Blogger Denise said...

My granddad (the one with the round house overalls with the can of prince albert in the pocket on the bib, next to Jesus just a chatting with clear ears and no hearing aids) would have said about this post Bob, "you can take this straight to the bank!!"
My granddad would take out his hearing aids at night and kneel by his bed and pray outloud till Grammy would come in and kinda tap him anbd say BILLL BILLLL time to say Amen! You see, granddad has those aids out and was praying outloud for everyone of us kids, grandkids, greats etc.....and he prayed LOUD for all of us :) But could sure hear us when we did't want him too :)

So Bob I think granddad would say you're onto something here :)

 
At 11:00 AM, April 06, 2010, Blogger foolery said...

This was so well-written, boB. What a hassle! But it's clear you found the right guy (both times). : )

 
At 9:46 AM, April 16, 2010, Blogger Rex Ray said...

Bob,
I’m playing like you are Wade Burleson as he wrote on his blog today (Friday April 16) about Messengers being attacked.

The reason I picked you and your post of April 2, 2010, no one will read what I say except you, and even you may not notice. So it’s a little like writing a letter and throwing it in file 13. You see, for three weeks now, our last deacon’s meeting has been going around in my head when I should be sleeping.

But first, I’ll quote you and then tell what my father told me. You said, "Those who don't do more than they're paid to do, aren't worth what they're paid".

My first paying job was picking cotton for a penny a pound, so my father’s statement and yours wouldn’t work for ‘contract labor’.

My father’s statement was: “Those who don’t do more than they’re paid to do; will never be paid more than they’re worth.”

OK, back to my troubles. Our usual 30 to 45 minute meeting lasted 3 hours. I had received an email from our pastor that replied to my email. I gave it to my relative (I’ll name X) a week before the meeting, and nothing had been said about it until the meeting. Besides being a messenger, I was involved in the ‘dispute’. X started the ‘word fight’ by saying he was tired of me giving him papers. He worked himself into a rage where his face was red and shaking his finger. (He is noted for throwing fits.) He was tired of me giving him Wade Burleson’s papers (I’d stopped giving them for over a year) – me showing off by getting involved with Frank Harber. (Harber had kicked my brother-in-law out of church, and Harber was fired a year later.) He resented me showing off going to the SBC - of me giving him the email from the pastor. On and on he went until the pastor, in concern for his health (X’s heart doctor said for him not to get upset), told him he should go outside and take a walk.

For the first time in my life, I decided to stand up to being bullied by X. I stood and said I want to illustrate what X did when I gave him the email and before he read it. With the paper in his hand he said, “You just peck-peck-peck-peck-peck…” He said this for over a minute. I illustrated what X did with each “peck” by jabbing my fingers toward a fellow deacon’s face and stopping them an inch from his eyes. I said X wasn’t angry; he was enjoying himself with a smile. I told X he had bullied me all my life.

 
At 9:48 AM, April 16, 2010, Blogger Rex Ray said...

I said at one time, my wife and I decided if we were killed we would like for him to ‘have’ our children because we thought he and my sister were the ‘perfect’ Christians. That changed when X told my 15 year old son, “NO! THERE’S NO ROOM FOR YOU!” I had brought a boat and motor to Alaska in visiting our parents. X had taken a plane. X and his young son were invited to go fishing with a 17 year old cousin, my two sons, and me. There wasn’t enough room in the boat for all of us and my oldest son had volunteered to fish from the bank. As we came back from upriver an hour later, he asked to get into the boat. I told him he could have my place and that was the only ride I had in my boat as X was in charge of the boat for the week we stayed. (I didn’t tell at the deacon’s meeting that our cousin said X was the most critical man he had ever met.)
Next, at the meeting, I told of another event of being bullied. X was teaching how to cut sheetrock by drawing a line with a straightedge and cutting the line. I said it would be faster if he used the straightedge to guide the knife. In a rage, he grabbed my shirt and started shaking me – pushing me back ten feet while yelling that I was always telling people what to do. I tried to explain but he wasn’t listening. The word got around that two deacons almost had a fight. At the meeting I told of the people going on a mission trip were being told by X what time to meet the next day. X was talking softly as he had a sore throat. I asked him to repeat the time. X grabbed my ears while saying my poor hearing was causing him to hurt his throat. I tried my best to jerk away, but he had a strong grip. The jerk caused my ears to hurt for an hour. He continued to hold my ears while he went on and on. My thought to hit him in the stomach was canceled by what kind of an example would that be for the young kids to see, so I said and did nothing.
When I stopped talking, X said, “Will you forgive me?” I said something like, I will if you mean it.

After that, the meeting began to heat up in another direction. The email was read that was given to X. On one side of the paper was this that I had put on Wade’s blog:

Is Church like Sports?
Rex January 13, 2010
A coach is usually someone who’s played the game, and usually the more players respect him, the harder they try to please. If a team is a loosing team, there’s a reason why.

Good reasons for loosing:
1. Lack of experience.
2. Size.
3. Lack of skill.

A bad reason for loosing: Players don’t care.

If there’s no good reason for loosing, does the school start over with a new bunch of kids, or do they get a coach that can motivate them to win?


Bob, I gave this to the pastor as a wake-up call for him to change back to the way when our church was growing.


On the other side of the paper was the pastor’s response:

“If you think that this church needs a new “coach”, then follow your conviction and “man up” by making a recommendation to have me removed. For once, do not hide behind a pen, paper, or computer. I will even make the motion that the church votes by secret ballot. Crissi and I will leave the meeting so everyone can speak freely. But, if it does not pass…I will ask for your removal as a deacon and/or church member.”

Bob, if I was to do what the pastor wants, do you think it would help our church? In the three years, he’s been here; our attendance is less than half with a lot of new people. That would mean ¾ of the old members have left. One deacon had been here for 50 years.

 
At 9:48 AM, April 16, 2010, Blogger Rex Ray said...

One thing that was discussed was a comment I made on Wade’s blog that was addressed to you. I don’t know if you remember it. It read:

March 31, 2008
Bob Cleveland,
I appreciate your humor…we could use a lot more. Sorry, but I not good at it. Some people have asked about me: “Is he the serious twin, or the funny one?”

On the subject of women being treated different than men; once, the church I was in, had voted to do something that I was against, and afterwards I was discussing my views with the pastor who was in favor of the motion. His secretary was in the next room and the door was open. All three of us were good friends, and she walked in and told why my view was incorrect. He yelled at her, “GET OUT OF HERE AND SHUT THE DOOR!”

She left like a whipped puppy dog. I was shocked, embarrassed, and other things. I opened the door, and told her, “You didn’t ask my permission to leave.”
“What did you say?”
“Oh, I was just trying to make a joke”, and closed the door.

The pastor had been talking in a normal voice, but afterwards, he could have been heard through many doors. I think his ego had been hurt that he needed a woman to help him.

Weeks later, I asked her if he had apologized. She said no but she was in the wrong. It gave a new meaning of the pastor telling the church, “I can work with anybody, but not everyone can work with me.”


Bob, before the pastor read Wade’s blog, I told him what I had written. After reading it, the pastor said I wasn’t talking about him because he didn’t yell at his secretary. He told me to ask his secretary and in his presence, she remembered quite well. He still had the look of disbelief on his face. I believe his sever ADD effects his memory. He wanted all the locks changed on the church because a thief had stolen the many master keys that were upstairs. Later, he found them in his desk. Two weeks ago, as we were leaving church, he yelled from the hall that one of our member’s (40 years old) funeral was being held at our church in three days and needed volunteers to cook a meal for the relatives. (Someone in the hall had reminded him.)

At the meeting, the pastor still denied yelling at his secretary.

Bob, you probably remember when Wade deleting all the comments connected to me, the pastor and his wife. I had made the comment that a pastor had yelled, “Look at me, I’m apologizing to you!” My comment upset our pastor so much he told his mother who told his wife. They made comments that cause a group to attack them saying they were not Christians because his wife had said I was full of hatred and lies.

At the meeting the pastor said twice that maybe our church would do better if it had a new pastor. I think he was fishing for a denial but no one said anything.

Sorry for the length but I feel better.

 
At 10:10 AM, April 16, 2010, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Rex,

Glad you feel better.

First observation: when somebody lays hands on me as you had happen, conversation stops. I'll make sure it does, and I tell them so right up front. In a church situation, I'll just not let that happen, or continue.

Second, there are lots of churches around and I've always striven to make my relationship with Jesus, and only with the local church as a means of serving Him. That fact manifests itself in such ways as I would have called the pastor out immediately when he yelled at the secretary. Some might say one shouldn't embarrass him like that, but that's baloney.

Same for the guy that grabbed me ears. He'd have instantly heard never to touch me again, probably from the floor where he'd been after I'd kneed him in the crotch.

Yes I would.

Tolerance of such things upon one's person can wind up years later with people getting shot in church, as far as I'm concerned. And I suppose having that attitude might have saved me from some similar encounters; I don't really know.

As far as such trouble at a church, with "leaders" who do such things, check Jeremiah 7:16 and ask if you should even BE in such surroundings, or praying for them. Staying in an ungodly church is tantamount to ecclesiolatry.

Thanks for the comment. Say what you will (as long as it's clean).

God bless.

 

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