Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tractor Pool

The knock on my door seemed a bit more frantic than usual, so I hurried to see who needed my immediate attention and why.  I opened the door to my sopping wet neighbor, Benny.

He skipped all the pleasantries, “I need a ‘pool.’”  He said with a sense of urgency that I seldom see from him.

It looked to me like Benny had already found a “pool, ” but all we had was a hot tub, so I was a bit mystified as to how I could help him with a “pool.”

“A pool?” I asked.

“Yeah!” he replied as if I was the dumbest person on the face of the earth, “A pool!  My lawn mower done took a swim in the pond down there at Sharon’s, and I need a pool!”

“A pull,” I said as understanding started to creep into my brain.

“Yeah!” Benny yelled at me, “Why do you think I’m so wet?”

I didn’t know why Benny was so wet.  Call me stupid, but I would never have attributed his sloshy appearance to his lawn tractor taking a swim in the pond.  Now, I might not be the brightest bulb in the tool shed and my escalator might not go all the way to the top, but I was able to correctly surmise that Benny must have also taken a swim along with his tractor.

“Where’s Bill?” Benny asked.

“Playing tennis.”  I replied, “Do you need me to bring our tractor down to the pond?”

“Sure 'nough!” He said, “You able to ‘pool’ the lawn mower out?”

“It’s me or nothing.”  I laughed since I was the only show in town.  No one else in our neighborhood lived on a farm or owned a vehicle with the towing power of our trusty Farm Pro tractor.

Benny wasn’t laughing.  He just hung his drowned-rat head, slumped his shoulders and squished off the porch.  “'Righty then,” he moaned as he swigged his beer, “We’s down by Sharon’s place.  See you there.”

I was hurt by the lack of confidence that Benny seemed to have in my tractor pulling skill.  I’ll show him, I was thinking as I quickly changed into proper tractor pulling attire; an old tee shirt, torn jeans and beat up sneakers.  I grabbed Lulu and off we went to man the tractor.  Just as we were driving the tractor around from the barn, along came Bill to save the day.

“Benny sunk his lawn tractor,” I informed Bill as he approached us.

“I know.”  He said in his matter-of-fact manner as if this was an everyday occurrence.  “Anna told me.”

He jumped on the tractor, and the three of us rode down the street with Lulu on my lap steering and Bill riding shotgun.

We arrived at the pond to find Benny, miraculously still holding onto his beer, up to his shoulders in murky water.  He was sitting on his fully submerged lawn tractor looking completely dejected as if he just lost his best friend.  A gaggle of geese swam off in the distance while a gaggle of people gathered on the bank.

“I wouldn’t have believed it if I didn’t see it with my own eyes.” Joe began, “Benny never spilled a drop of beer, even as the tractor slid in slow motion down the bank.  I swear he tumbled three times easy and never once did his beer go under water!”

As the neighbors were discussing Benny’s beer prowess, Bill was expertly maneuvering our tractor through the trees.  Then, he began backing it up along the steep bank.  I started to panic as the tractor leaned precariously toward the water looking as if it was going to join Benny and his ride at any moment.

I started running toward Bill when someone grabbed me from behind and told me to calm down.

“Calm down!” I screamed as I turned to see who had grabbed me.  “My husband is about to topple into the water and ruin our tractor, and you’re telling me to calm down!”

There was no one behind me, though.  All I saw was a bunch of senior citizens sitting in golf carts.  Mary Anne was the only one still hastily retreating toward her golf cart, so I figured she was the culprit, but I didn’t have time to pick a fight with her.  I turned my attention back to the drama unfolding before my eyes and saw that Bill had somehow gotten the tractor back on level ground, but then I noticed the rope they were preparing to use.

I might be a few bricks shy of a wheel barrel, but even I knew that ragged nylon towing strap which was tied to a fraying rope wasn’t going to pull Benny, let alone an entire lawn tractor, out of the water.  Benny already had the tractor hooked up and ready to go.  He was instructing Bill to put the Farm Pro in low gear when I heard someone from the crowd say, “That damn rope ain’t gonna pull notin’ outta that swamp!”

“Stop!” I yelled to my husband who couldn’t hear me over the roar of the engine.

He kept right on pulling.


The crack of the rope reverberated through the crowd sounding like a gunshot. Thankfully, the hook did not come flying back with the rope that was ricocheting through the crowd like an angry snake.  Miraculously, no one in the ever growing crowd was hurt by the ricocheting rope.  Benny, on the other hand, was screaming that his tractor rolled back on his leg.

Luckily, Benny was able to move to one side and pull his leg out.

“I’ll be damned if he still hasn’t spilled that beer!” Someone in the crowd observed.

As everyone was pondering the next move, Mary Anne returned on her golf cart with a chain.  She handed it to a big burly man in overalls.  He entered the pond and attached the chain hook to the tractor while Benny tied the remaining rope to the chain.  I couldn’t understand the wisdom in using the rope again when they had a perfectly good chain that was clearly long enough to reach Bill’s tractor, but I guess Benny thought this was going to work.  He signaled to Bill to start pulling.  You could have cut the tension with a knife as Bill slowly eased the Farm Pro forward.  Inch by inch Benny and his tractor began to move through the water.  The only problem was, he wasn’t getting closer to shore.  As Bill pulled, Benny’s tractor headed downstream.  Benny started yelling and then it happened again.


The little bit of rope gave way, and the chain bounced onto the bank.  It was a wonder that no one got hurt again.

Well, they say the third time’s the charm.  It took another agonizing attempt using only the chain. This time Benny, beer held high, rode his steel steed from the muddy waters as Bill confidently pulled him to safety.

“Benny,” I heard someone in the crowd laughing, “you ought not to try to mow the pond! You know that tractor of yours don’t float.”

Gosh, I thought to myself, I could write a book about my madcap neighborhood, but who would believe it!

Just as I was thinking this, Mary Anne and Anna joined me.

“What chapter of the book is this going to be in?” Anna asked.

“Chapter seven,” I replied. “I’m titling it, ‘Tractor Pool.’”