My friends, this misguided word-slinger can’t think of a better way to kick off the new year than with a column on Albert Troxell. Well, if I really dwelled on the issue I suppose there’s a better subject, but Albert is good enough.
Many of you probably recognize him because he’s an intricate part of the downtown Enumclaw scene. Yet, except for an occasional greeting, you may never have spoken with the gentleman. If you’re lucky enough to know Albert on a personal level, consider yourself fortunate because he’s an interesting and humorous fellow.
In case you aren’t certain who I mean, let me clarify the matter once and for all: Albert cuts grass. He’s that short, muscular, round-shouldered, 69-year-old fellow you often see tending to the lawn around City Hall and various homes in town. Or perhaps you’ve seen him pushing his lawn-mower up and down the sidewalks as he moves from one job to another. He also has a bicycle he rides here and there. One or the other – the lawnmower or the bicycle – is often parked outside the Ski Inn. Yet, you shouldn’t assume he’s a heavy drinker; nothing could be further from the truth. In all the years I’ve known Albert he’s never drank anything stronger than a Diet Coke. But alas, he is subject to diabetic seizures and these attacks have shaken him when he’s in the gin mill – whereupon, other customers have understandably assumed he’s drunk. These bazaar episodes only last a few minutes, then he returns to normal.
Casually, he knows a lot of people around town and has pet names for many of them. For instance, he calls me Curly, which stems from his fondness for “The Three Stooges.”
I was shocked to learn Albert had spent much of his life confined to various state institutions. His mother didn’t want him and had him committed when he was 4 years old. Eventually, he ended up at Rainier School in Buckley.
This seems like a hideous injustice. Trust me on this one: unless he was terribly different in his younger days, there was absolutely no damned reason for him to be locked up.
Today, he lives alone in his own house and does just fine, thank you. He’s been cutting lawns for the past 30 years.
The other day, Albert was mowing the yard of a house he had been serving for several months, when a stranger stepped out on the front porch and flagged him down. “Who are you?” the stranger asked.
“I’m the guy who cuts the lawn,” Al relied.
“Well, this house has been sold and I’m the new owner.”
“That’s fine,” Albert said. “I’m the guy who cuts the lawn,” and he returned to the chore at hand.
Yup, that’s what he does.