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Sunday, August 1, 2021

    The Rented Hedge Trimmers

    Mike Ruby
    A Muscatine resident for over forty years, Mike Ruby had careers both as a teacher at Muscatine High school and as a writer for nonprofit companies. Now retired, Ruby continues to cultivate his love for writing by contributing monthly Ruby's Reflections to Discover Muscatine newspaper.

    Muscatine Living

    My dad was quite conservative when it came to spending money. He wasn’t a cheapskate, miser, or a scrooge, but he was careful how he spent his hard earned money. Perhaps the words thrifty or frugal better describe him. I owe a lot to him for instilling in me the value of being conservative when it comes to monetary matters. I could tell several “Dad stories” about his thriftiness.

    One summer day, when I was about 8-years-old, Dad decided to prune the many overgrown spirea bushes in our yard. He knew that electric trimmers would make the job easier, so he splurged and rented the clippers at a nearby shop for $1.25 an hour. When he learned the clock starting ticking as soon as he left the store, he barked orders for me to jump into the car quickly, nearly burning rubber in our ’52 Oldsmobile as he drove back to our house. His goal was to get all of the hedges cut and the trimmers returned in one hour. My job was to stay out of the way.

    Dad had forgotten to have our long outdoor extension cord available. I remember him sprinting to the garage, and finally to the basement, frantically looking for the cord, no doubt saying a few choice words under his breath. Halfway through the pruning job a good friend, Ray, was walking by the house and initiated a conversation. Dad spent about 15 seconds explaining that he had to keep on task and abruptly ended the brief encounter. I’ve often wondered what Ray thought as he walked away.

    Constantly looking at his watch, Dad continued at a break neck speed as mounds of trimmings were strewn all over the yard. Glancing at me, he said, “Your job is to rake up this mess later, but for now, stay out of my way.”

    When he finished the last bush, Dad yanked the extension cord off the trimmers, again looked at his watch, jumped into the car and raced to the rental shop. I just stood there and watched. Several minutes later he arrived home and exclaimed, “I didn’t make it in time, so they charged me an extra 50 cents. At those prices, maybe I should go into the rental business.”

    Within 10 minutes he cooled off, grabbed a rake, and helped me clean up the big mess.

    When have you or someone you know been penny wise and pound foolish? What were the results?

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