COLUMN: It’s shopping, not buying, that’s the chore

I have a small patch of lawn at the front of the house, too tiny to easily mow with the lawn tractor ...

I have a small patch of lawn at the front of the house, too tiny to easily mow with the lawn tractor. Fortunately, a kind soul a couple of years ago offered me a discarded electric mower which worked out quite nicely, despite mowing off a chunk of cord on its second use.

Thus, there was a sense of lament when the machine began to make some unusual noises, followed by smoke and a grinding halt to its rotary motion.

Some neighbours stopped to chat a couple of Sundays ago, and since I knew they attended the local flea market on a regular basis, I asked if they ever saw any cheap electrics for sale.

As a matter of fact, they related, the market is still open and though they didn’t notice any such items, there might be one available.

Since my city son-in-law was out for a visit, I asked if he would like to join me. He agreed, adding he’d also like to check out one of the department stores for a water toy to keep the toddler cool on such a hot day.

Now, I’m not a shopper. I go to stores for something specific, find the item and get out as quickly as I can (except of course for a cruise through the tool and sports departments to see if there is anything new that I didn’t need but might want).

Son-in-law, I discovered, is a shopper. We enter the store together, unsuccessfully peruse the water toys and then it’s time to go – for me. Not so him. I suggested I’d wait outside, and I waited and finally the hot sun got to me so I climbed into the truck, cranked the air and waited some more. Finally he emerged clutching a $1 bubble maker.

Only an hour left before the flea market and my possible purchase of an electric lawn mower was gone for another week, my grass in the meantime rising to epic heights.

At the market, as people were packing up their sale items, I raced around looking for what was not available. I even passed up an opportunity to chat with the attractive woman giving away a crate-full of kittens.

Son-in-law, on the other hand, was fascinated by all the trinkets, junk and farm produce (buy that when the market first opens, not this late in the day, I admonished).

I probably spent more time looking for him than I did a lawn mower.

As we were driving away, and I relented to his request to stop at yet another store to buy the so far elusive water toy, there on the side of the street was a garage sale with, lo and behold, an electric lawn mower right out in front.

Three minutes later, with fifty bucks accepted, it was in the back of the truck. An hour later we left the second department store with a suitable toy.

The kid was happy, I was happy and after mowing the little front lawn with my new acquisition, it was time for a beer and talk about the possibility of spending a weekend fishing on some remote lake.

That discussion arrived at the need to acquire a small aluminum boat since, on the last trip I took the son-in-law, I found his unfamiliarity with a canoe a little disconcerting, especially in the middle of a lake.

Thus a more stable craft is in order. Again, using the same frugality that led me to the used mower, I began checking Craigslist for boats. There were quite a few, but do you think anyone selling them would get back to me?

I responded to the ads, noting the price – generally about $500 – was right, the boat’s size and condition looked good, and I’d come to buy it as soon as I was told where it was. Not a response, and a day or two later the boats were no longer listed.

Either there are a lot of fathers-in-law taking city sons fishing, or Craigslist sellers aren’t quite as adept sales people as those who stock flea markets and yard sales.

So now that I have filled my need for a cheap electric mower, I’m ‘desperately’ in the market for a 12-foot ‘wide-beam’ aluminum boat. If there’s one cluttering your back yard and you want a quick deal let me know.

markrushton@abbynews.com