Wednesday, March 05, 2008


Finally, I had opportunity to interact with a legend of the fair mother city.

Shaggy is the kind of guy a novel should be written about. I don’t know too much about him and he seems kind of private, but I’m sure he’s got a good story. When you see him driving around town, you can’t miss him.

He’s a short, small, red-headed bearded guy who looks like a cross between a homeless leprechaun who just woke up and a gas station mechanic. Many people hire him for lawn maintenance or small engine repair. Even Obi-Wan had dealings with him years ago.

Shaggy use to drive around town in this huge, gigantic brown van that seemed to be held together with duct tape, bailing wire, and chewing gum. The van was basically a tool shed on wheels. It hauled multiple lawn mowers and various landscaping equipment as well as every grease-covered tool known to man. This is fact because he maintains a couple of lawns in my neighborhood and I’ve watched him fix mowers from the back bumper of the van. But now he drives around some small Pontiac car. The mowers hang out of the trunk.

Word on the street is that Shaggy is the best small engine mechanic in the fair mother city. Or at least, he gives you the best price.

A year ago Obi-Wan gave me a 30-something year-old tiller with a 5 HP engine. He hasn’t been able to operate it for a few years plus I used it to till his garden and mine. So he gave it to me, like an inheritance or something. And unfortunately, after it officially sat in my shed for two weeks, I went to till Obi-Wan’s garden and it shot a rod. That means: buy a new engine or get a new tiller.

So last summer I saw Shaggy mowing a yard near my house and I asked him if he could find a good used Briggs & Stratten 5HP tiller with a side-shaft. “I’ve got three of ‘em in the house”.

I discovered he was being literal. As in: he had three used engines “in” his house as opposed to “in” a garage or “in” a shed. I got a glimpse through his back door. His house looked like jawa heaven with weed-eaters, motors, and parts decorating the walls and ceiling. I'm sure he had engines in the bath tub too. Most every square inch of his back yard was covered in motor parts like a wrecking yard. It was awesome.

Last summer he quoted me a $50 price to buy the engine with installation. Sold.

Unfortunately, last summer he lost my number and I didn’t track him down because soon after I couldn’t spare the cash until recently.

Wow. I actually got to interact with the legendary Shaggy and see where he lives. For years I assumed he lived out of his van. He in fact lives in a real run-down, forgotten neighborhood tucked away on the wrong side of the creek from my alumni university. I always found it interesting, if not somehow prophetic, how wealth and poverty are always separated by some simple physical boundary like a creek, railroad, prominent street, etc. I never know why that is.

Shaggy is a tradesman and entrepreneur in the poverty culture. He hustles for a buck and does it well. All the best to you, pal.

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