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Column: A Dear John letter for a John Deere

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It's been a long winter, so I was out in the machine shed, checking batteries, shoveling some snow, being bored with winter, but still, a little grateful that I didn't have to mow grass yet. I heard sobbing from over in the corner.

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It was John Deere the Riding Mower, crying his heart out. Blackie Blazer the Chevy Snow Plow, who was parked next to John Deere the Riding Mower, looked at me and shrugged his fenders, said: "I don't know what's wrong with him, but he's sure upset."

He looked over at John Deere, then back at me, said: "Can we go plow some snow?"

Sure, I said. How's your bed pan looking? I call it a bed pan just to irritate him. He leaks transmission fluid like a river, so I keep a pan under him. I can tell whether to give him a transfusion just by seeing how much is in the pan. I don't hold it against him. He was born in 1984. In truck years, he's older than I am. (Three years for each year.)

He said: "I think okay." Then he added: "I feel good. Let's go fast."

He likes to see snow fly. Of all of us, he's the one who doesn't want summer to come. Summer comes, he sits in the shed and mopes.

John Deere the Riding Mower let out another wail. Ever since I learned that I can communicate with appliances and machinery and such, life has been much more complicated. Especially when they get whiny. Okay, I said to him, is your battery voltage dropping?

When their electrical pressure drops, they're like people with low blood sugar: kind of depressed and ill-like. I have to keep them charged up all winter. I figured Johnny was ready for a booster hook-up. I flipped up his hood. He quit weeping.

He said: "Nobody loves me."

Good grief. Must be another case of SAD--Seasonal Appliance Disorder, which is like humans and their Seasonal Affective Disorder, only in the case of appliances, it's not lack of sun, it's lack of activity. Look, I said to John, there'll be grass to mow pretty soon.

"That's not the problem," he sobbed.

Blackie Blazer the Snow Plow said: "Let me just push him around the shed a little."

No, I told him. Blackie, he's kind of a bully, pushy, goes with his style, you know.

So what is the problem, I asked John. My voltmeter said his battery was okay.

"I got a letter from Mr. Williamson the Oil Furnace," sobbed John.

Oh boy. Mr. Williamson came out of the closet not that long ago. Surprised all of us.

What did the letter say, I asked Johnny, kind of knowing what was coming, having to ask out of good manners and all.

"He doesn't love me anymore."

Oh boy. Ohboyohboyohboy. I'm not trained for this.

It'll be alright, I told him. Look, Blackie will keep you company, won't you, Blackie?

Blackie doesn't have much choice. Neither do I.

First time in history: A Dear John letter to a tractor.

Or, I should say, a Deere John letter.

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