Posted in Pursuit of Excellence

Three Lawn Mowers

Growing up I hated cutting the grass. It wasn’t a labor of loveā€¦it was simply a labor. Even into my young adult years it was something I didn’t enjoy and didn’t have a heart for. I think my hatred toward manual labor was in some way influenced by the feelings I had toward my Dad. One summer when I had moved back into my parents’ house after no longer living with a roommate, I was cutting the grass and decided to take a break. I went inside and forgot to go back outside to cut the grass, and later that day I went outside to find the lawnmower had been stolen from our front yard. Understandably my parents were upset, and at the time we didn’t have the money to replace the lawnmower right off hand, so they decided to start using a lawn care service.

A few years later I started dating Jill and she noticed that my parents were using a lawn care service and knew that the service wasn’t really a necessity if they had a lawnmower. She suggested it to her Dad (Bob) and so he gave me one of his lawnmowers that he no longer used. I accepted it, and my parents weren’t as willing to receive it because they were happy with using the lawn care service. Instead of telling Bob that they didn’t want the lawn mower I simply stored it in a plastic outdoor shed. Bob would often inquire about that lawn mower and I would evade the topic by making a quick comment.

Later Bob realizing the one he gave me was a little dated, decided to buy another lawn mower. This newer lawn mower was worth far more than what he paid for it and he offered to store it until Jill, and I had our own place. Around this time, I had proposed to Jill and we would one day be married. I declined and brought it back to my parents’ house. They were upset with another lawn mower, reminded me they were happy with their lawn service, and told me they had no room to store it. Instead of going back to Bob and telling him they didn’t want it and had no room to store it, I asked a friend of mine if I could store it at his place

Derek was glad to help, and I transported the newer loan mower to his house. A few weeks later he calls me and tells me the lawn mower was missing. Derek had let the brother of a friend stay at his home, and this person ended up selling the lawn mower to purchase drugs. Derek apologized for what happened and paid me back for the value of the lawn mower. In hind sight, I could’ve asked him to call all the pawn shops to see if the lawn mower could be located. After this incident, I didn’t have the courage to tell Bob what happened to the lawn mower, and he would often ask about that lawn mower.

Late last year, Jill and I are married, and my parents are now moving out of their house. By this time, I had consciously blocked the truth of the lawn mowers from my mind to avoid disappointment. Jill’s parents helped with my parents’ move and at this time the 2nd lawn mower had been moved out of the plastic shed and placed under the carport. Seeing the lawn mower slowly began to remind me of the events. My parents had sold the plastic storage shed, and since the house was sold, asked me to take the lawn mower with me. I didn’t have the room for it in our apartment and was going to ask Bob to store it in one of his sheds. I decided to delay asking him, and so the lawn mower was moved to our next-door neighbor’s carport. He had recently passed away, and so around Christmas I decided to take the lawn mower to Bob’s house.

With my parents I rode over and unloaded the lawnmower. Upon seeing this lawnmower, Bob instantly recognized that this lawnmower wasn’t the one he had bought for me. Instead of coming clean, I backpedaled and didn’t tell the truth about that third lawnmower. Jill knowing the story about the lawnmower told her Dad. My Dad was upset because he believed that I had placed the blame on him, but I assured him I would clarify everything with Bob. On New Year’s Day, my parents had Jill’s parents over for a New Year’s Day meal. At the end of the meal I apologized to Bob about what happened with the lawn mower but didn’t explain what happened even though Jill had already told him. He wanted to hear it from me. A few days later, I went over to Bob’s house to help with installing a system, and he pointed out that I didn’t tell him what happened. At this point I finally did tell the whole truth about what happened with the third lawnmower, and the truth that my parents didn’t want the lawnmowers to begin with, and I confessed that all of this could have been avoided if I had told the truth even if it disappointed him. Recently, I found out that the 2nd lawn mower wasn’t usable because water hadn’t gotten into the tank and it was unable to be fixed and only good for parts.

The lesson of the story: Tell the truth even if it disappoints someone, because it’s better to disappoint someone now vs hides it and deal with a big mess and even greater disappointment. You can’t please everyone and that’s ok.