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Lawnmower man, smoke eaters & bladerunners
by Andrew Barbano
Aug 28, 2013 | 970 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When I ventured into the smoky Seventh Circle of Hell that was downtown Reno last Saturday morning, I didn't expect to encounter Lawnmower Man.

He wasn't as scary as the guy in the Stephen King novel, but disturbing just the same.

The occasion was meant to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the legendary 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

As I walked through the forest-fired haze toward the federal courthouse, I noticed a man lifting a weedwhacker from a pickup. He cranked up just as our assembly formed.

Then he went from annoying to obnoxious.

"The individual was reckless and rude in his behavior as he threw one of the event signs and banner for the NAACP on the ground and then walked on them. The loud noise made it impossible to talk to him and he was using a potentially dangerous device within a few inches of people, including young children, reads a complaint submitted to both Nevada U.S. senators.

When he worked the lawn's edge, his powermower hit the feet of people on the sidewalk, including Tribune columnist Jake Highton.

"The worker, without any notice, proceeded to run the lawnmower so close to the participants that he physically knocked a lady over, causing her to fall into an older woman, which almost knocked her to the ground. The worker showed no concern for the people he had physically knocked down and proceeded to run the lawnmower near several young children, former Reno-Sparks NAACP President Lonnie Feemster asserted in his letter.

"I was shocked at the inconsiderate behavior and the careless treatment," he added.

"Why was the weed-whacking and lawn mowing scheduled at the only time there was an approved public event? ... Why didn't security personnel recognize that the behavior of the maintenance worker was causing a problem? This work could have been scheduled at an appropriate time without being disruptive and endangering citizens and children."

Seeing Lawnmower Man push Prof. Highton, I got into his ear, telling him he was endangering people.

Never looking up from his assault on the turf, LM told me to go commit an extremely intimate act which is impossible to accomplish while alone.

I raged, but that was then.

What do I hope happens? Disciplinary action for him and the uniform from the Dept. of Homeland Security? Firing?

No. I'm a union man and Labor Day is Monday. I would like to sit them down with those they harmed, and talk.

They need to see us as people, not nuisances inhibiting landscape maintenance.

Perhaps a long-dead Baptist preacher would agree.

Photos and more information at

Honor your work at Monday's Virginia City Labor Day Parade.

Esté bien. Haga infierno.

Be well. Raise hell.

Andrew Barbano is a 44-year Nevadan, editor of and first vice-president of the Reno-Sparks NAACP. As always, his opinions are strictly his own. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988. E-mail
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