Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Tuesday

June 10, 2014

Glenn Puit: Working man endures, then thrives

“The Lord doesn’t give you more than you can handle.”

— Bob Szasz, Grawn business owner

GRAWN — Few of us make it through life without a season of misery.

Odds are you know what I mean. I'm not talking about the overdrawn checking account, minor fender bender or my-kid-is-acting-up brand of misery. I'm talking life-altering crisis. The type of misery where something shocking comes out of nowhere and crashes down on you, leaving you praying for help from above.

Bob Szasz’s season arrived Oct. 13, 2008.

The big-hearted, blue-collar owner of A-Plus Mowers on U.S. 31 is one of those guys who can fix anything. Szasz, 50, started fixing stuff as a kid four decades ago, repairing a busted lawn mower with the help of a neighbor, and he's been at it ever since. Szasz looks like he just stepped out of a Merle Haggard song -- his hands are often dirty, a big dip wedged behind his lip, as he greats customers looking for a mower, an engine fix or snow blower with a working-man kindness that's hard to miss.

"I love the repair aspect," Szasz said of the business lined with mowers on a hill along U.S 31. "You take a broken-down heap, turn it around, then you see the smile on somebody’s face."

Szasz was working underneath 5,700 pounds of work truck when the season arrived.

The jack stands holding up his Dodge 1500 inexplicably slipped.

“I was pulling the rear end inspection cover off. The truck had been in the air for 40 minutes, so I wasn’t thinking about it,” Szasz said. “It started creeping forward.”

Szasz tried to scurry out. It was no use. The truck came down without mercy, the spare tire of the vehicle smashing him like a hammer. He was pinned under the truck, lung punctured, 12 ribs smashed and, worst of all, he was alone.

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