In his song “The Devil went Down to Georgia” Charlie Daniels sings, “He was in a bind, ‘cause he was way behind. He was willing to make a deal.”
That’s pretty much the predicament I found myself in a couple weeks ago on the day I was supposed to leave for a vacation in Texas. I had broke my leg the previous weekend, my yard was in dire need of a mowing, and just before I left for work, I apparently broke my mower.
Yes, I was in a bind, and if the yard didn’t get mowed before I got back, I was going to be way behind.
But as has happened so often that it’s actually rather humbling, someone came to the rescue without even asking, and there was no deal to be made.
To set the scene a little, my grandson and wife told me they’d mow the yard since we were planning to leave fairly early the next day. That was good to hear, but as I was getting ready for work, they were having trouble backing the mower out of the shed.
It’s kind of a regular routine. Everyone in the family seems to have trouble backing the mower out of the shed, except me – at least most of the time. I don’t quite understand it, because it seems pretty simple to me. You put down a couple 2 X 8s since the floor of the shed is a few inches higher than the ground, back out slowly, and that’s it, as long as you don’t miss the boards.
On this particular day, though, I was in a hurry, and more frustrated than I should have been about them having trouble getting the mower out of the shed.
So, as the grandson watched, I hopped on the mower, threw it in reverse and started backing up. But because I was in a rush, I kind of forgot that I had this big boot thing on my leg and that it might be a little more difficult than usual to use the gas pedal. In my haste, the mower came out much quicker than usual, but out it came.
“There you go,” I told my grandson. He hopped on and started mowing, I thought, while I went back inside to finish getting ready for work.
A minute or so later my grandson came back in the house. “Um, Pap,” he said. “The mower blades won’t turn.”
At first I assumed he did something wrong, so back on the mower I jumped. It started up just fine, but sure enough, the blades would not engage. I started to blame him, but then I remembered that I’d come out of the shed pretty quick – and a little off track – and maybe, just maybe (yes, I know, probably for sure, I just didn’t want to admit it), I’d banged the blades on either the floor of the shed or the boards.
So there we were, getting ready to leave for Texas the next day, with a yard that really needed mowed, and no mower to mow it. And, by the time we returned from Texas, the grass was going to be way too high for our mower to handle.
Great, I thought. Just what I need – a broken leg on vacation and a yard that’s going to be out of hand when I return. So off to work I went, more than a little peeved.
I’d been at work a couple hours when our sports editor came strolling in. His path to work takes him past my house and he said, “Hey, I saw someone mowing your yard.”
What? Who could it be, I wondered.
Turns out a couple old buddies heard through the grapevine about my predicament and jumped to action without ever being summoned. And, had my wife not seen them in action, I doubt we ever would have known who helped us out. Calling them good people just doesn’t seem to be enough.
Speaking of my mower, over the last two summers it has broken down so many times I’ve lost count. At the end of last summer it was in such bad shape that I thought it was beyond repair. But just like he did last summer, a former Hillsboro firefighter came to the rescue. When he brought it back looking practically new this spring, I could hardly believe my eyes.
He has since repaired it a couple more times, and has mowed for us when it’s obvious we’re in need. He asks for almost nothing in return, other than maybe enough money to cover his expenses.
It’s almost unbelievable.
A couple years ago, I came home to find my mailbox had been knocked off its post and shattered. What ignorant teenager did that, I wondered, at the same time fuming about how much it was going to cost me.
The next morning or two, there was a knock on my front door. I answered and found a stranger who wanted to know if he could fix my mailbox. Turns out he’d been hauling farm machinery down the road and hit my box with whatever he was pulling. He replaced the shattered box with one as good or better, and even placed my house numbers on the side.
He drove off before I had a chance to thank him or ask his name.
I could go on and tell you about my neighbor who has pulled me out of the mud when I’ve been stuck on my mower on more than one occasion, or how he clears my driveway when the snow gets bad, and asks nothing in return.
I could tell you of another neighbor who plowed a garden for us last year and another who watches our house when we’re gone.
And then there are the countless acts of kindness that have been directed my way in recent years by cousins, siblings, and other family members and friends.
In a day and age when there’s way more sickening things happening than there should be, it’s good to know that where I come from there’s a lot of really good people in this world.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.