Making a Living the Hard Way

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by MOturkey, Sep 2, 2005.

  1. MOturkey

    MOturkey LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,781

    I have 3 of my accounts clustered near a small church. The church sits on a lot of perhaps one acre in size, with a small churchyard in front of the building itself and a parking lot on the side. The back is just a vacant lot.

    I called one of the board members last spring and inquired about the possibility of getting the job mowing. He told me the preacher's kids did it for extra money, and they weren't going to hire anyone else.

    Well, as you can imagine, the property looked like crap most of the summer, especially the vacant lot portion, which they only mowed like 3 times all summer, and then didn't get within 3 feet of the chain link fence. I mowed along the fence myself three times, because it borders a business I mow, and made it look like crap.

    Anyhow, this year I didn't even bother to call, as I figured I'd get the same song and dance. I was mowing across the street Wednesday, when I saw an old pickup pull up into the church lot. An older man got out, probably late 60's, or perhaps even older. He had not one, not two, but three 21's in the back. I had noticed the perimeter of the lot had been mowed the day before, perhaps 3 or 4 rounds, but didn't think anything of it.

    I was kind of watching this old boy as I was mowing across the street as he went through, one, two, three mowers. He finally loaded one back up, apparently couldn't get it started at all. Mowed a while with one, then a while with another. Finally after 30 minutes or so, and perhaps 3 circles around the lot, he had one mower on each side, and loads up in his truck and leaves.

    He returns as I was finishing mowing, and was grabbing my trimmer. He got out, carrying what appeared to be a bottle of carb cleaner. He walks out to each of the two mowers, and dumps half a bottle in each one.

    While I was trimming, he must have gotten one of the mowers running, as when I loaded up to leave, he was cutting grass. I drove a block down and mowed another business there, and when I drove back by, he was still mowing. The total size of the uncut area when he started was perhaps 1/2 acre, maybe less. I'm betting the church isn't paying him $25 to mow the whole lot (and it hadn't been mowed for 4 weeks).

    I mowed and trimmed $150 worth of property while he was attempting to get this little lot done. I'll admit, I felt sorry for him. I suspect if he had failed to get his mower running, I'd probably have gone over and mowed the thing for him. Wouldn't have taken me 10 or 12 minutes.

    I know some of you are thinkng "scrub", but I just saw an old man who may well be living on SS, or less, and was trying to make a few honest dollars. Neill
  2. jaybird

    jaybird LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 272

    i dont know what to say.
  3. mcwlandscaping

    mcwlandscaping LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,163

    That would have been real decent of you to do that if he hadn't been able to finish. An LCO like yourself that could be making money elsewhere, to stop and help a guy out. Thats real nice of you!
  4. dvmcmrhp52

    dvmcmrhp52 LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Pa.
    Messages: 4,205

    Most likely what you said, just an old guy trying to get by................
    Scrub? Nah, just reality sometimes.............
  5. Precision

    Precision LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,995

    perhaps if you see him around you might donate a retired mower you have to the cause. Or next time a resi client offers you theirs, take it and be that old guys patron saint.

    My parents used to use an old guy like that a number of years ago,but he was 74 (and looked 84). He had an old beat up car with a huge trunk and some even worse looking equipment, but he showed up every week on the same day, took his time, but did a good job.

    One day someone held him up, beat him up and stole his equipment, sorry as it was. After missing a week in the hospital, he had to go around to all his clients (didn't keep phone numbers) and tell them he had to stop providing service.

    My parents gave him their old mower, the guy two houses down bought him a new line trimmer, someone else donated a used edger, some one else bought him two gas cans and filled them up, someone else donated a handheld blower. Before long he had better equipment then he had before the robbery.

    And it turned out he was maintaining at least 40 houses a week. I know because that is how many of his clients came to his funeral.

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