There are times in a man’s life when he has to look at his surroundings and think, “How much of a redneck am I?”
I don’t mind admitting I’m a bit of redneck. I don’t see it as an insult. It means being an overly practical, hardworking person with a love for nature. But there’s a range of it, from having a camouflaged truck to having a little mud on the tires to having a fishing rod in the trunk.
Anyway, this redneck existential crisis hit me a few days ago as I mowed my lawn.
Our yard hasn’t been a high priority lately. There were plenty of excuses. I’ve been busy at work. It seems to rain any night I had time to mow. We took a few days off to go out of town. The contractor expanding our driveway and adding onto our patio in the back took months longer than we’d anticipated, leaving us with piles of dirt and not much motivation to make our environment look pretty until it’s done.
I came home from work one day and realized our front yard reminded me of a corn field. The grass was tall enough, the blades started to separate. It was time to do something about this eyesore.
After eating dinner and changing into appropriate clothes, I hopped on the mower. The first thing I noticed was my yard was nearly 12 feet narrower than I’d remembered. It turns out if you stop caring for your lawn, each of your neighbors may add an extra swath each time they mowed theirs and I hadn’t. Based on their mower paths, they’d adopted two swaths apiece for the sake of the neighborhood. Sorry about that, guys.
I cruised along at a slow speed to chop up what amounted to a short hay field in my front yard. As I approached the one last patch of tall grass out front, I heard the unmistakable sputter of a mower about to run out of gas.
Then I remembered: The last time I filled up my mower, I’d poured the last of the gas from our container. Here I was only half-finished with my yard, and I was out of gas and daylight.
My redneck instincts kicked in. I cleared that last patch of grass in the front and then sped up and made a hard turn to try to drive the mower back where I keep it, even if it meant rolling there with momentum.
I misjudged my fuel supply by a few hundred yards, and my mower stopped in my side yard. I didn’t think I had the time to buy more gas for it before the sun set.
That’s when that crisis hit me. Am I enough of a redneck to leave my mower exactly where it ran out of gas? Maybe I’d be able to finish off the mowing the next day, if it didn’t rain again. Do I really want to roll it all the way to its shed? Or do I go get more gas for it and finish the job?
After a minute or two of weighing my options, I made my decision. I am not quite enough of a redneck to leave the mower in the side yard after it ran out of gas. I grabbed my keys and wallet, went to the gas station, filled up our container and rushed home.
I filled the tank back up on the mower and proceeded to finish mowing the back yard, or as much of it as I could see in the darkness of dusk.
Now I know that’s how much of a redneck I am: Not enough to leave the mower sitting where it ran out of gas, but just enough to mow blindly in the black of night just to get the job done.