Mr. Steward

A man I knew pretty well died suddenly last week. He was six years older than I am. We were not bosom buddies, we didn’t really see each other outside of the monthly meetings that we both attended, and what I knew about him mostly came from our periodic interactions. I first met him in 1975, when he called to tell me that I was going to become a member of a social organization of young men. I was surprised that he knew my name and eventually flattered that I was considered worthy. Even more, he suggested that I should become an officer in that organization and help recruit younger men like me. I accepted his offer, as if I had a choice, and benefited from the association. A few years later, as president of the group, I sent him an invitation to our annual event, something I did for all of the former presidents. He came, we chatted for a few minutes, and he told me how much he appreciated not being forgotten. I don’t think it occurred to me to thank him for being recognized by him those few years earlier.

In 2004, I was nominated by another organization to become a part of the leadership. It didn’t mean much, other than I would have to attend two meetings a month, 10 months out of the year, and if I was a responsible committee member then I stood a chance, in about twenty years, of  becoming the Steward, or head man, of an organization founded in 1737. The Steward was my friend from the earlier years.

He was a good Steward, thoughtful, judicious, and completely committed to the organization and its goals. I learned much sitting at the table as we worked to manage and maintain our organization. When his five year terms expired, he joined the ranks of former Stewards who guided the organization.

At our last meeting, in March, we had a nice crowd for supper and the members seemed to want to linger, enjoying the company, the conversation, and the camaraderie. We happened to walk out at the same time, and we chatted quietly on the sidewalk. As I had done before, I reminded him of our intermingled path and how much his interventions meant to me. We laughed a little, shook hands, and went our separate ways.

Last Sunday he died. Suddenly, in the country, on some land he owned, doing what he most enjoyed in his life.

Tonight, I will attend our regular meeting and it will be the first meeting without him. It will be a profoundly sad event, but the organization will continue on, as it has for more than two hundred fifty years, thanks to men like my friend.

Now that he is gone, and as I have thought about his absence, I understand that he was, for me, a mentor. For whatever reason, he took a shine to this callow youth and gave me an opportunity. Not once, but twice. I was honored each time. I hope I can live up to his expectations.

I will miss him.

 

Take That, Hardware Store Man!

You may recall, dear reader, that I had something to say a few days ago about a horrid experience at my local hardware store, having to do with my broken lawnmower.

Well, to put a finish on that dark tale, I went online, found the necessary part, found the operator’s manual for my machine, and multiple Youtube videos on how to replace the throttle cable. Yesterday, the part arrived. In the nick of time, since the wife was ready to cut the grass with a scythe she was so ashamed of the yard.

Behold the record of a new achievement in handiness, a new level of tool skills, and the end of any reliance on third parties for small engine repair…….

Reality Bites

lawn mower

Dreams do come true. At least some of the time. One of my dreams, when I was an itinerant manager for one of my employers, was to live in a house with a yard. I wanted to cut the grass, fertilize the grass, water the grass, and enjoy the calming power of a well tended lawn. Fast forward 20 years. The dream has become a reality, and sadly the reality is not an exact copy of the dream.

Not being mechanically inclined, I have always relied on the kindness of strangers to help keep electro-mechanical devices functional. My lawnmower is such a device. Every couple of years I do something stupid which results in a trip to the lawnmower repair guy. I gladly pay the premium.

Last weekend, in the midst of a lawn manicure, the machine abruptly died. After a minute or two of confusion, I diagnosed the problem as a torn throttle cable. This has happened before. I knew that a professional would be required.

So, bright this Saturday, I and the lawnmower travelled to our repair guy. Down Folly Road, in the company of the thousands headed to the beach. The trip was fruitless; the hardware store had eliminated small engine repairs from their income statement. But, I was told, their other store, on Johns Island, still provided the service. Off we went.

The young man working the counter seemed disinterested in my arrival. I told him what I needed and he said they might have the part in stock. Where was my machine? Did I want him to do the work? What kind of machine was it? Patiently, I explained that I had left the machine in my car, and yes I wanted him to perform the miracle. As to the machine, all I could recall was that the engine is a 6.5 HP Briggs & Stratton. He pointed to the shiny display of machines for sale and observed that the name was written on the chassis (inferring, of course, that my stupid self ought to be able to read and recall such facts). The cross examination, the haughty demeanor of the pimply faced teenager, and my apparent inability to exchange such technical information, all combined to force me into a state of mind that I rarely encounter. I departed the store, telling the manager that I would never darken their door.

But, the grass remains uncut. Not a dream, but reality.

The White Album in Perspective

whitealbum

While checking out at my local grocery store today, I found myself in the slowest line. It was too late to change lanes, as everyone seemed to be getting ready for the Super Bowl. The gent in front of me was no exception, as his buggy was filled with beer, wine, snacks, and the rest of it. The only notable thing about him was that he looked a little old for most of his shopping items, having the hunched back, baggy jeans, and strap-on shoes that tend to mark our senior citizens. My opinion was confirmed when the clerk advised him of the total and he whipped out his check book. I sighed deeply, annoyed that he wasn’t availing himself of a debit card, and irritated that he didn’t start writing the check until he had a total. Typical, my inner voice pouted.

old man writing a check

Finally paid, he said a cheery good-bye to the clerk and everyone else in the vicinity and shuffled off to the exit. My order was quickly scanned, debit card payment accepted, and everything bagged.

As I exited the grocery and parked my cart, I heard the melodious strains of Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da coming from a nearby car. Looking around, I saw an elderly woman sitting in a new Subaru Outback, windows down, stereo cranking. It struck me strange. Looking further, who should be putting groceries in the back but the old man slowpoke from the check-out lane? My smile was quick and involuntary, as I started to hum along. As I passed her window, I said. “The White Album – what a great set of songs!”

“What”, she hollered, trying to turn down the volume. “Great song”, I said, smiling.

The White Album is 45 years old. You do the math……..

A Lawn-Mover For The 21st Century

As some may know, PediCab Man has begun his mega-crosscountry bike ride. He says he will post a report every day, and so far he has kept his word.

He attaches a photo that is just too good not to share as widely as possible. As a husband currently enduring the Wrath of God as directed by the wife, due to our gasoline-powered mower being currently under repair at our favorite hardware store (going into the 4th week), this discovery seems to augur a future that is a little more sensitive to my carbon footprint….

Environmental Behavior

There is a story, yet to be told in its entirety, about a man I know. As a tyke, in the grasp of loving parents who had not yet mastered the intricacies of child raising, some developmental issues presented themselves. Put plainly, at the age of 12 months, the man-child was fat and had not yet learned to walk. The pediatrician suggested that problems loomed if a change in circumstances did not occur. The poor parents, bewildered but inventive, and profoundly American (therefore ingenious), created their very own mechanical solution to a physical problem.

In a flash of inspiration, they took the husband’s skateboard and with a roll of duct tape attached their child to the mobility device. The problem was solved. Until J. either lost weight or learned to walk, whichever came first, he would, in the meantime, be able to move himself around the home. The increased mobility would, undoubtedly, lead to both weight loss and an increase desire to walk. Unfortunately, photographic evidence of this event has not yet been uncovered; know the search continues.

I will leave it for you, gentle reader, to calculate the possible existence of any long-term psychological issues.

Thus, it comes as no surprise to see this photo in the e-mail; a beautiful baby, dressed as a lobster, placed in the pot (any boiling water?), ready to be cooked and eaten. See for yourself:

lobster.jpg

I guess we could not expect anything more from “Skateboard Baby”.