An Ode to James of Gumtree
On Sunday morning I went outside to mow the lawn. It was about 8.30am which meant the prelude was an in-depth discussion about when an appropriate time to mow a lawn is on a Sunday in suburban Brisbane. The discussion started with my wife, and ended with me talking to myself. Issues of community sensitivity and social expectations, such as weekend lawn mowing schedules, are less interesting to her than they are to me.
“Righto Schnoogies”, I yelled from right next to her, “I’m heading out to mow the ol’ Veronica Vaughn. Shan’t be long.” She had stopped listening to me well before now.
Heading out in my mowing attire (bare feet, black cowboy hat, basketball shorts, and old black t-shirt from the days of doing pharmacy pseudo runs for a Gold Coast cook), I parked the machinery in perfect parallel, like a Movie World stunt car show rehearsal. Once I had restrung the whipper snipper with cable that was way too thick for my model, we were ready to go.
Whipper snipper first.
I swung off that bloody thing for ten minutes trying to get it to start. Pump the fuel, set it to cold-start, rip the cord a few times, move it to idle, rip the cord some more, shake the pins and needles from my arm, repeat. I must admit that I thought petrol would burn your mouth more than it does, but it actually wasn’t too bad. I have never siphoned fuel before and probably won’t do it again.
Righto, no whipper snipping today. I will come back to it.
The mower gets roaring after a few attempts. Why is it vibrating like that? And why does the wheel click?
After about ten minutes into the job, I am mowing down the fence line and the damn thing is shaking like it’s being exorcised. I tip it from side to side a few times (while it was still running) to see if I could shake loose whatever was making it wobble. That worked. One of the four mower blades, I’m guessing the loosest one, released itself and shot into the fence. Vibration gone.
Did I mention I mow with the catcher off because it takes so goddamn long to keep stopping and emptying the catcher? My grandfather would be so embarrassed if he knew how badly I was disrespecting my lawn.
Even with earplugs in, and the roar of a furious mower, I could still hear the rocks and sticks being crunched and shot across the yard. Even though the sparks are disconcerting, my logic is that a spark would need to find its way into the fuel tank for it to explode. That seems highly unlikely.
Job done in 35 minutes with only a handful of dog toys sacrificed in the process.
Having cleaned up (which meant turning the mower off), I moved the whipper snipper and mower to the front yard in line with the chainsaw I’d been meaning to fix. The missus came out and asked why all of our garden tools were on show. I told her I was going to Gumtree them. This gardening maintenance caper was not for me. It’s too dangerous, I explained to her.
I posted the following advertisement (click to enlarge):
A gentleman turned up a few hours later, threw the tools in the back of his truck, handed over the three dollars, thanked me, and left. But that’s inconsequential to the story.
I received the following text message within 20 minutes of the advertisement being published:
So I engaged:
As Gary Ablett Sr is my witness, this happened.
For dinner, we had tofu and veggies, and a dark coloured, thick cake with ice cream for dessert. And somewhere in this world, James of Gumtree is doing whatever it is that he does during the day having no idea that a story has been written about him, and is doing the rounds on the internet.
Random and anonymous generosity. Is there anything more humanly uplifting than that?