Thursday, January 7, 2010

Bikes and Lawn Mowers

I grew up in a midwest subarb outside Chicago. My Dad suggested I mow lawns to make money. I could mow a lawn in about an hour, which usually = $20. That was a good rate for a teenager if you could line up 4-5 lawns a day. Only problem was transporting the lawnmower around town. I wasn't yet old enough to drive.

Problem solved - my Dad built me a cart to tow the lawn mower around. This was horrifyingly embarrassing for me. Especially on the few occasions when I took a corner too fast and tipped the lawn mower off. Let me tell you though - with the weight of a lawn mower behind you, a bike can really FLY down the one hill that exists in the midwest.

I vividly remember pedaling down the street as fast as possible, hoping none of the "cool kids" would see me with my lawn mower in tow. They didn't have summer jobs. They also probably didn't learn the value of money and saving at a young age.

I mowed lawns for several sticky and muggy summers, including one cicada-filled summer where I ran while mowing the grass to try to keep the creepy, flying bugs off my legs.

Funny how time changes things. I now see this as one of my best childhood summer memories. I'm glad I wasn't a "cool kid" and that I got to learn the value of hard work and creative transportation. Plus, making all those nice diagonal lines in the bright green grass is pretty fun!

24 comments:

FLATOUT JIM said...

Your'e the cool kid now!

Most of the former cool kids are probably fat and ugly now.

You could probably make money from the trailer these days.

Angela and David Kidd said...

The kid who mowed our lawn mowed a ton of lawns and as he got older he got better equipment and hired employees. At age 25 he sold his lawn care business for a lot of money and now is retired and owns a surf shop in Costa Rica. There is a lot to be said about mowing lawns as a kid. Zach will be mowing lawns when he's old enough!

Nicole @ Geek Turned Athlete said...

I just got a huge smile on my face when I read this. :) As you can tell from the blog name, I was NOT the coolest kid on the block. However, I did learn the value of earning money at a young age, and I actually learned to appreciate good genuine friends. :)

endurancegirl said...

that is AWESOME! I can see how it would be embarrassing back then... but it helped to make you the motivated and hard working person that you are today!

endurancegirl said...

that is AWESOME! I can see how it would be embarrassing back then... but it helped to make you the motivated and hard working person that you are today!

Rebecca DeWire said...

What a great story. My husband mowed lawns and shoveled driveways as a kid. He didn't have a regular rate so some of the old ladies would only pay him a few bucks. He loves to tell the story about putting all of his money into a 10 year savings bond. He actually wishes he wasn't such a dork and actually spent all of that money when he was 15.

Jeffrey said...

I love the artwork, but the thought of $20/lawn is so completely outrageous that it about makes my head explode. Back in my day, which was about 5 years after your day, I took my $7 and felt lucky to get anything at all. That's BS. Major BS.

Beth said...

What a great story!! Oh how I wish you had a picture of you on your bike with lawnmower in tow! :) But as I can see - you learned how to work hard from a young age...and it never left you! :)

Mike Russell said...

And thus started your obsession with cycling! I thought there may be a deep rooted story somewhere out there of how you fell in love with biking and there was!

Kathleen @ ForgingAhead said...

And this is why you love bikes and are self-employed to this day. It all starts early!

t-odd said...

I grew up in the time of paper routes, lawn mowing and driveway shoveling. The cool kids actually did do these jobs and they were cool because they had money to spend on booze. I wasn't a cool kid because I spent my money on stupid stuff like bikes and roller blades (when they first came out.) In fact I just got in from shoveling the driveway.

(Word verification: "nonad" - makes me think of Lance Armstrong.)

ONEHOURIRONMAN said...

Wow, I am old...
I used to mow 1/2 acre lots in about 2 hours and charged $3.

Teresa said...

Dont you love it when work is play!
I can only imagine the big letter "C" in everyones yard :)
tn

D said...

Nonad. *snort*

I've never understood this "summer job" phenomenon. Where I come from you just had a job. It lasted all year.

Meg Runs said...

What did you do with the money you saved? Now I see where your love for biking started...very "grass" roots!

Jill Costantino said...

That contraption is AWESOME! I had to cut our 1/2 acre lawn that had tree toads that scared the S%^T out of me and we had gardner snakes - I wore big rubber boots and was paid $25 for a job that took 4 hrs!
YOU HAD IT GOOD!!! Your parents instilled good values in you!

Jennifer Yake Neuschwander said...

So funny. My older brother had a contraption like for lawn mowing. He saved up for a sail board then converted the trailer to pull either. I wanted to be cool like him but and mow lawns but I could only manage to score dog walking jobs. You were really cool then and now!!!

Ordinarylife said...

my first thought was "wow, now wonder you cycling well - resistance training at a young age!"

It is funny how things we don't appreciate at the time become some of our best memories.

ADC said...

Your last paragraphis bang on the spot. When Shaun and I got married we decided we didn't want any wedding gifts, money, nothing. That's why it is soo much sweeter seeing now what we got and that the two of us earned it with our hard work.

D10 said...

This is such a great post. I love that your Dad made you a cart to tow the lawn mower, that is so sweet.

Big Daddy Diesel said...

This reminds me of all the snow shoveling I did for neighbors as a kid.

Jennifer Cunnane said...

When I was 15, I liked the guy who mowed my family's lawn so much we started dating! Great story..

IAN said...

seriously, what I would pay for a pic of you with the mower in tow!!

Herrad said...

Hi Charisa,
Best wishes for 2010.
Please come by my blog and pick up your award.
Love,
Herrad