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A Rope Too Short

I love my brother, I really do. I think it most fortunate that after most of a life spent apart we get to spend the better part of each day together in an unconventional setting. With all that said, he is wound a little tight. Now, he suffers a fool no less than I but he just gets so upset at times. Actually, upset is a bit mild. He gets ranting, stomping, throw your hat on the ground mad.

2 Falls ago, we were backed up and running a long string of back to back to back work weeks. My bro decided we needed an extra pair of hands so he hired an acquaintance from up on the Red that had recently retired from a big plant up there at an early age. Ross James was, in my looking at it, institutionalized. He had held the same job at the same plant for 30 years. He had not advanced in authority or responsibilities and his overwhelming seniority in a union shop made for an unremarkable and comfortable life.

He was, by all accounts, a good mechanic and a better than decent welder. Just the type guy we needed on board. He had some odd ways of doing things. For one, any cap he screwed on, like a fuel cap or oil filler cap, was put on so tight I sometimes had to get a 24″ pair of channel locks to get it off. He talked at a ripping rate and walked even faster. He was just a vexing individual to me.

Ross had his wife with him in their RV trailer and once he came on the job site, he never went home until that job was complete. Since he was there most weekends, we tried to find maintenance tasks and equipment repair for him to do when we escaped to our stick houses.

The John Deere Compressorator

One task that came up was to replace the pull rope on our truck mounted John Deere compressor. This compressor is used almost daily and it is an air compressor with a 600 watt generator built in. You have to give a hearty yank to get the Green Beast to fire. Ross James went back up north to the Red River right after this job was done and we have had no need of him since. His compressor repair lived on however.

A pull rope for any gas engine is a simple affair. They are the same for lawn mowers or chain saws or water pumps. Just a length of nylon rope with a knot on each end and a handle to hold on to. When you need to replace one, you don’t go to the John Deere house and say I need a pull rope for Model XYZ compressor. You go to the hardware or the auto parts and get a pull rope. They are all the same. Most of them come with about 7 feet of rope. The instructions (and common sense) dictate that you measure your old pull rope and cut the new one just a skooshy bit longer so you can knot it up tight and right.

Well, Ross James’ parting shot was the pull rope. He must have got crossed up because the pull rope he put on the compressor was half as long as it should have been. You throw your shoulder into the pull and about the time you had some good momentum building, you got jerked up short. On top of that, you usually had to yank it again because it was just not spinning up the Green Beast fast enough to catch.

Two things in life were guaranteed to set my brother off. Anything that said “Made in China” and the Short Rope. I know there are some good Baptists reading this so I will tone down the specific wordage but it would go like this:

yank Short roped mammer jammer! Who in their right gosh darned mind would even think of doing something so god awful stupid!

yank Gosh darned that Ross James! And this short roped mammer jammer!

The dog was hiding under the truck by the time the third yank started. If it was a really bad day, the Chinese would surface about the third yank as well. Even though as far as I can tell, the compressor is al American made, the Chinese were still gonna catch some hell.

yank Chinese sons a the Brazos. Gosh darned them and the mammer jammer Ross James. Short roped piece of Chinese crap. Dang them all! (hat hits the ground)  This little scenario repeated each and every time he started the compressor.

So yesterday the short rope broke and it fell to me to replace it with the Generic Rope. Since I am not easily cowed by my brother’s hat throwing hissy fits, I figured why not. The short rope is definitely history. That rope is now long enough that you can take a few steps back with it in your hand and give it a good full yank. Heck, you can walk across the road and still yank it. You could hang laundry on it and still yank it. You could truss something up with it and still have rope enough to get a good yank.

My brother has a habit of using the compressor to blow his Wranglers off if they are really gritty and dusty at the end of the day. I knew it was gonna happen today because both of us had a fair coating of ashes and burn dust from all the brushpiles we had been working all day. Sure enough, he stepped up and gave it a purposeful yank. Whooom!, the Green Beast fired up like it was on turbo speed and he almost fell backwards from the unchecked long rope yank. He cut his eyes over at me but never said a word. The expression on my face was identical to one of those Cherubs on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

End Note: She Left Me For Jesus by Hayes Carll from Trouble in Mind. For the good Baptists, just so’s you know.

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