Hot! Is Old Red On The Trading Block?

Old Red captured resting in 2009

For this exclusive And For What interview, Scotty Green, editor Emeritus of Mowing Weekly, caught up with the legendary, 28 year old, Toro 2 cycle, former self-propelled, now push mower, Old Red, the current all-time mowing leader (under review by the USMA and WMC – United States Mowing Association and World Mowing Committee) with 1,022 career mows, including 31 to date in 2013.

The interview was conducted on Sunday, October 6th, 2013. Rumors have surfaced recently that Old Red perhaps is on the trading block, aka the Trade-In block, or worse yet, ready to be put out to pasture, so to speak, by his owner, Pat Heffling. Old Red has sat suspiciously idle since Friday, September 27th, his last mow. Since then the grass at 6950 Apprentice Place has reached an all-time high in height, fueled by a healthy dose of rain and sunshine in the last 10 days. Old Red is usually on a 1-2 times weekly mowing schedule, so his inactivity has raised more than a few eyebrows in the mowing circles.

Is Old Red being shipped out, traded in, or ready to be shut down? His owner refused to comment when contacted by Mowing Weekly, further fueling the speculation that this is indeed, the last season for Old Red. Green sat down with Old Red during this hiatus, at his home inside the garage at 6950 Apprentice Place, just few yards away from the grass growing out of control in his very own backyard. Old Red was rested, stretched out in his faded blood red Toro paint, his wheels enjoying the cushioned mats of Mohawk carpets samples underneath. Between sips from a cold bottle of Red Stripe beer, and the occasional steady drags on a Marlboro Red, Old Red was open, lucid, but mostly confused regarding his current status.

SG: First of all, congratulations on the record, your 1,000th mow and your continued longevity.
OR: Thank you. It’s been quite a push, I was able to stay focused despite all the media attention, I’ve been lucky mechanically this year too and that always helps. Plus, for once, the weather has cooperated nicely.
SG: Was there ever a doubt in your mind that you would break the record?
OR: In my mind? No. In my owner’s mind? Certainly. Heffling is such a pessimist sometimes, it’s unreal. That guy can see the glass half empty before anyone pours a drink in it. He did do me a huge favor by getting my blades sharpened before the season this year though. it’s something I’m not comfortable with and he knows that, but it did make it a decided difference in my cutting style this year.
SG: What was the feeling when the record fell?
OR: In reality, just another mow, really (lights another cigarette). It was a beautiful day, temps in the 70’s, bright sunshine, grass was at about 4 inches, I believe. Needed to be cut for sure, Heffling will tell you that. Sometimes he has a penchant for mowing a little early, if you know what I mean. But, when it was over, other than the all the media and the press conference, photo shoots, etc., it was just another day at the lawn.
SG: Were you relieved?
OR: In a way, yes. You can’t comprehend the pressure unless you’ve been there. Add to the fact that I’m 28 years old and there was always the outside chance that mechanical issues would take me down. I had the left wheel thing in 2011 that was pretty serious and I’ve had problems with my exhaust and air filter throughout my career. I’m not the quietest mower around, you know. (opens another Red Stripe). I have to give credit where credit is due though, and Heffling started seeing the lawn a lot better this summer, he finally got his cataract surgery done on both eyes and you could really tell the difference in the mowing patterns this year. So, in retrospect, we both battled through some issues, but in the end it accomplished what we set out do, and that was break the record. So, relieved, yes.
SG: So let’s get right to the heart of the issue, then, why I’m here. In a season that has seen so many things go right, what is going on now?
OR: (Cleary agitated – belches) You tell me, I have no clue.
SG: Certainly you must have some insight, have you been able to talk to any other mowers, or owners about your inactivity?
OR: A few blades, no owners, but I can’t name the sources.
SG: What do they say?
OR: That this is a classic situation where the mower has probably been put on Craig’s List, while the owner negotiates late season deals for a newer mower to replace you next season. All the signs are there: plenty of grass to mow, nice weather, plenty of gas left in the tank, the mower is mechanically sound, but the owner just perceives it’s time to move on.
SG: Do you believe them?
OR: No. Flat out, absolutely no, I’d bet my blades on it, no!
SG: Why do you say that?
OR: The circumstances have changed in other ways around here, it’s a different world lately. Something’s up, but I don’t think it entirely has to do with me, just a feeling I have inside my chassis.
SG: What kind of things are you alluding to?
OR: The owner, Heffling, definitely not the same guy.
SG: How so?
OR: Ever since the last mow, after he and Cyndi (wife) got back from Beef-A-Rama, it hasn’t been the same.
SG: Do you think he might have discovered a deal on a mower in Minoocqua?
OR: No, no, nothing like that. He’d never abandon me like that, I know him too well, at least I think I do. No, he’s been out of sync lately, in fact, he left here last Tuesday with Cyndi and he hasn’t gone back to work since.
SG: What could that mean?
OR: You tell me. The only time he comes out of the house is every other hour or so for a brief ten minute walk around the neighborhood. Head down, shades on all the time, doesn’t matter if the sun is out or if it’s raining. Strange.
SG: What else?
OR: (Getting another beer and opening another pack of smokes). He hasn’t wandered into the garage even to say hello, or for that matter, grab a beer, damnedest thing. He still hasn’t gone back to work, and for the life of me I have no clue what is going on in that house all day. You could hear a mouse fart.
SG: Drugs?
OR: Wouldn’t put it past him. All of a sudden he became this “Breaking Bad” nut overnight, maybe he’s cooking meth. Who knows. Beats me. Stranger things have happened, I guess. He hasn’t shaved either since the last mow, you wouldn’t recognize him. That’s not the worst of it though.
SG: What do you mean?
OR: Rumor has it he’s ready to pay to have some neighbor kid cut the lawn tonight.
SG: For real?
OR: Heard him on the phone with the kid’s mom. Supposed to come over tonight to take care of the mess that’s out there now.
SG: Maybe he figures the length of the grass would be too much for you?
OR: That doesn’t make any sense at all. We could have mowed Wednesday or Thursday last week. Something’s up.
SG: Maybe reach out to Cyndi?
OR: That’s a good idea. I’ve always liked her. Supports that guy no matter what, “And For What” as he’s given to say. She always defends me when the neighbors complain about my noise, and man, can she cook. She’s another reason I’ve lasted so long, great nutrition.
SG: Well, Old Red, sounds to me like this story is far from over, best of luck to you down the yard, wherever your owner takes you.
OR: Thanks Scotty. There’s a lot more to this story I’m sure, all things happen for a reason. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

This is Part 1 of a 2 part interview, to be continued….

And For What

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