A Tractor Tale

If it sounds too good to be true, well, maybe, one should hesitate a bit? I got scammed recently. Well, sort of…I think the man’s intentions were fine in the beginning but then, heck, I don’t know what happened.

When I walked from my parked car to the homeless shelter where I volunteer weekly, I noticed a cute, little wooden John Deere tractor on a front lawn. It caught my eye as my daughter’s fiancé, Stephen is a farmer who loves John Deere. His brother is the opposite; he’s all about Case. Green and yellow tractors vs. red ones.

A man driving by, rolled down his window to ask,” Do you like it? I’ll make one for you!”

I’ve never seen this man before now. He told me he’d built over 300 tractors when he lived in the countryside. He couldn’t keep up with the demand. I told him I’d think about it. Twice afterwards he came into the shelter to inquire when I wanted him to build me a tractor.

He told me I needed four (eight foot long ) 2×4’s, 3” screws and yellow, green and black paint. He said to pay him $20 for his labour. He suggested I double the materials and he’d build a trailer to tag along behind the tractor.

I purchased the materials and required the use of a truck to transport them to his place. I asked for his phone number. I wanted to be sure I could reach him. He gave me his business card: Dan the Tattoo Man. Apparently the tractor builder tattoos bodies for a living.

A couple of weeks later, walking to the shelter, I saw a large version of the cute John Deere tractor on Dan the Tattoo Man’s front lawn. I wondered who ordered the large version. I preferred the cute one.

While I served food at the shelter, Dan approached me. He said, “Well, how do you like it? Did you see it on the lawn? It’s all done!”

I was confused. There was no tractor and trailer; there was only a tractor. A very large tractor! He had taken weeks to build it. It was to be a bridal shower gift for my daughter. There was no time to build another one.

Dan the Tattoo Man beamed. I couldn’t let him know I was upset and disappointed.

“It’s much larger than yours.”

“Well, you gave me so much wood! I had to make it bigger! I put a hook here so if you want a trailer, it can hook up nicely.”

I looked at the man. He seemed to have no recollection of our conversation concerning doubling the materials to make both tractor and trailer. It was a moot point. The wood was used up already.

Dan stood there in a shirt that looked splashed with acid. There were almost more holes than fabric. He grinned from ear to ear. He offered to throw the tractor in his pick-up truck and follow me home. No way would it fit into my car!

I’m non-confrontational. I let the trailer issue drop. I told Dan, “Sounds great!”

When we got to my place, instead of paying the formerly agreed upon price of $20 per tractor/trailer, I made the mistake of inquiring the price.

“Whatever you think you should pay me…50 bucks?”

Again, I am non-confrontational. The man looked in dire need of cash. He had also driven 25 minutes to my place to drop off the tractor. I couldn’t cause trouble. I paid him 50 dollars.

The problem was the more I looked at the tractor, the more upset I became. Many areas were bare wood, totally missed by a paintbrush.


Other spots were definitely in need of a second coat. I had to repaint it. It was a gift. I couldn’t present it in this condition.

I called Dan to tell him I’d swing by to retrieve my left-over paint.

“It’s all gone. It’s all used up.”

“What? I gave you 50 dollars’ worth of paint!”

“I used it for other projects.”

Hmmm…a rather enterprising character. In his defense, I hadn’t asked for my paint to be returned, had I?

I did what the Martha Stewart in me had to do. I went to Home Depot to exchange the can of green paint my hubby had previously purchased. I had preferred John Deere green paint so his paint can was untouched. The tractor needed yellow paint over the bare patches on it. It wouldn’t cost me a cent. Well, I planned to pick up a small can of glossy black paint, too.

I showed the Home Depot clerk my hubby’s receipt for the green, yellow and black paint he had bought for me. I asked if she could match up the UPC code for the yellow paint.

“There are over 1000 types of yellow here!”

The clerk looked to be 100 years old. I’m sure she’s seen a lot of paint over the years. I, on the other hand, was determined to match up the paint perfectly. After a lot of complaining, she went to a cash register and announced, “It’s green paint, not yellow.”

“Oh, I meant that UPC code.”

I smiled. She growled loudly.

“It’s called Sunny Yellow.” 

Bingo! I got the match! I painted the bare spots yellow and then repainted it all a second coat. I applied a second coat of black paint to the parts painted black. Then, I noticed black brush strokes—made by Dan—on the green painted areas. I found a tiny can of John Deere green paint in the basement I had used once to paint the “grassy” base for my concrete goose.

I ended up re-painting the entire tractor. Do I have any regrets? Nope. Guy says that’s what I get for hanging out with tattoo artists. The way I see it is Dan needed the $50 and extra paint more than I did.

I put some yellow chrysanthemums and gnomes in the tractor for presentation at the bridal shower. The bride-to-be, Giselle and her fiancé, Stephen told me they loved it. Giselle’s a sweet girl who wouldn’t tell me otherwise, I know.

When I told Stephen the tractor was made by Dan the Tattoo Man, he said Dan did a really great job. I saw no need to correct him. It’s good to let things go.

Stephen teased Giselle that he’s going to see Dan about getting a John Deere tattoo soon. Oh, my!


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