I wonder what kind of psychological training lawnmower repair specialists have received to deal with the stories--er--lies they must hear while on the job. I got to thinking about that last night when Tony Bitton showed up at our house for his second session of fixing our Sears riding mower. He met the mower for the first time last fall when the engine had gone bad.
Tony looked it over for a second and said the engine had gone bad. He'd bring a new one. When he brought the new engine and installed it, I sold him our old riding mower and the rototiller that had worn out their welcome with repair specialists. Tony eyed both machines for their parts and gave me $125. So far, with Tony's visits, I've gotten a new engine, $125 and, most recently a new mantle. I haven't put out a penny; instead, Bill pays each month for the "Sears maintenance agreement."
In spite of the Sears maintenance agreement which generally takes care of our frequently-needed repairs, I go through a certain amount of stress with every time a lawn mower technician comes to visit. That anxiety evolves from the fear that maybe this time the repair person is going to know exactly what I did to the mower to necessitate his house call.
And, like my dentist Dr. Neuder used to do when I'd show up with a mouthful of cavities after five years between visits, the repairman could rightly give me a good, stern lecture and explain to me that mowing rocks along the ditches or jungles of six-foot high weeds in an old garden bed is not really good for the machine. Each time I face this visit, I try to think of the most reasonable excuse for why the deck is hanging by a thread.
Before Tony's visit last night, I had to talk to Sears customer service agent Irene (whose call could be monitored). She had a Southern accent.
"Now, Mizz Love, was the mower working correctly before you used it last?"
"Yes," I answered.
"Miss Love, could it have possibly hit a big object or a rock or anything like that?"
"No, I don't think so," I responded. "Actually, it was working just fine before we moved, but this lawn surface out here is kinda rough." Never mind the fact that the rough lawn probably had nothing to do with the breakdown. I wasn't gonna tell Irene that while I was mowing the overgrown garden spot the mower started smoking and making rude sounds.
I also wasn't going to tell Bill who reasoned when he heard the mower going "clackidy, clackidy, clack" the day after the garden assault that if I'd take it the other direction on the rough lawn, it might work better. Fortunate for me, Bill, for once, suggested no guilt on my part.
Irene assured me that a repairman would call in 24 hours, which did happen. When Tony came, I was ready for my latest performance of lying by omission. He started working on the mower and soon had the deck removed.
"Looks like a mantle broke," he announced.
"Whaddya spose would cause that?" I asked.
"I dunno, " he said while removing the broken mantle and discovering that all three nuts holding it in place were broken. "Must've hit something hard."
"Well, this new lawn surface---it looks pretty, but it's pretty rough," I announced, being careful not to mention any mowing sorties through the garden spot.
Soon Tony's training for dealing with guilty lawnmower owners kicked in.
"Bad bearing," he said. "When the bearing goes, there's not much you can do."
"Whew," I thought to myself. "Got off scot free from 'the lecture' one more time." Within minutes Tony had the Craftsman mowing like a dream.
As he headed out the driveway at 8:30 p.m., finishing off another long day of Sears maintenance agreement repairs, I wondered just how many other mowers along Tony's Tuesday route had secretly assaulted garden jungles and "hit something hard."
Note: Annie's got photos from her Mt. Rainier hike yesterday. Go to (www.nnlove.blogspot.com)