Stick to the Plan: Part I

This weekend is not what I would call my best. The weather was perfect. In fact it couldn’t have been better. But as I look back on it I realize that it was just a little off from the beginning and the fault for all of it lies squarely at my feet.

It all comes, you see, from not “sticking to the plan.”

Two weeks ago I couldn’t get my push mower to start. The weedeater wouldn’t cooperate either. I spent some time futzing with both of them and decided my time was more valuable than my money in this instance and opted to take them both in for servicing.

That Monday I got a recommendation for a mower repair shop and drove the not inconsiderable distance to drop both units off.

I should have know something was amiss from the get go but I chose not to pay attention. The shop wanted a $35 deposit for each item which would be taken off the cost of repair. That seemed reasonable enough. They also said they would call me if either repair ran over $50. Again reasonable and appreciated. They said they would call me when the repair was complete.

Here’s what I should have paid attention to. After having made my deposit I went to go get the mower and weedeater out of my truck. As I was waiting to hand over said items to the repair guy another customer came out of the office fuming.

“And I want my old parts put back on!” he yelled as he stormed out of the office.

Seeing me he made it a point to register his opinion of the shop. He told me how his equipment was, after servicing, in worse shape than when he brought it in and that if he were me he wouldn’t leave his stuff to be worked on here. Obviously.

I listened to the man, but didn’t heed his warning. Honestly, because I thought it was bad form.

What I should have heeded was how they handled him. The woman working the office (maybe the owner) came out and told the man to leave with her own level of vehemence. She made no effort to assuage his feelings or mollify his anger. She kicked him out and made it clear she didn’t care that she was losing his business or lowering my own expectations. I left my equipment with a slight uneasiness. Suddenly my earlier recommendation of their quality and service was under suspicion.

A week went by and I heard nothing. The following Monday I called about my stuff. I was told that the weedeater was finished but not the mower. I asked what was taking so long. She told me she didn’t know she didn’t have the work order in front of her. It could be that they were ordering parts or that they just hadn’t gotten to it yet. I asked again whether I would be called if the bill exceeded $50 and was assured I would be.

Friday morning I was called and told my equipment was ready. Finally. I had a full day and asked what time they closed. 5pm. I knew they weren’t open on Saturday (Really?) and my yard desperately needed attention.

Friday afternoon I finished my final appointment at 4:30. As I ushered them out the door I gathered my gear and began high tailing it to Centerpoint. To be safe I called the shop and alerted them that I was on my way.

“Okay, “ she said, “but we close at 5pm.”

The interstate is the fastest route but the interchange between the Expressway and the Interstate 20/59 is a bear, especially near 5 o’clock on a Friday. The gods were with me though and I juked and shimmied through down town and avoided getting caught in traffic.

I exited onto the Centerpoint Parkway at 7 minutes to 5. Heeding my inner voice I called the shop.

“Hey, this is Dave Hall. I just called a few minutes ago. I’m coming by to get my equipment. I just exited onto the Parkway and wanted to make sure someone would be there.”

“Well, everyone’s getting ready to leave.”

“I’m just a few minutes away from your shop. I just need to get my gear. I have cash in hand.”


“I’ll see if I can’t find someone to find your equipment.”

Two minutes later I pull into the lot. Two of the mechanics are outside with my stuff and take the time to show me that they both crank and operate. Cool.

I go into the office to settle up.

“That’ll be $142.53.”

“What? I thought you guys were supposed to call me if the bill ran over $50. I’m not going to pay that.”

The looks on their faces told me that this was all to common a scenario. Turns out the carburetor needed to be rebuilt on the mower. I’m not surprised as a member of my household, who shall forever remain nameless, inadvertently ran 2 cycle fuel mix through the mower. In case you didn’t know, they don’t like that.

The last time I was in Home Depot I checked on mower prices and for a non-self propelled model I could get one new for between 150 and 200 bucks. $140 to repair an old mower just didn’t make any sense.

“I assume you guys can resell this one to recoup some of your expenses.”

I paid $14 for the weedeater and was on my way. On the way to Home Depot to buy a new mower I checked the service bill for the weedeater. They replaced the spark plug.

Including the deposit I had just paid $84 for a new spark plug. You know what they say about a fool and his money.

On the way out I called Samantha. Allergies were kicking her butt and she wanted me home. I explained the mower situation and she pointed out there was a Lowe’s that was closer to my route home from where I was. Okay, Lowe’s it is.

I bought a mower and ramps to get my riding mower in and out of the truck.

Once home, I sat down with a beer and watched We Bought a Zoo with the girls. I was done for the day.

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