Shortly after turning my backyard into a deep, slippery mud-pit with the 2017 Ford Raptor, I received a text from my landlord: “Good afternoon. Please come see us at your convenience.” Oh shit.

On the morning my coworker Freddy and I were meant to pick up the U-Haul trailer to support our 1,800 mile trip to Utah in Project Slow Devil, I decided to drive the Ford Raptor through my backyard, which I had recently turned into a deep mud pit with my 1948 Willys CJ-2A.

But what began as a deep mud pit turned into an enormous mud canyon once the Raptor dug its BF Goodrich All-Terrains into the muck, and promptly sunk itself down to the subframe and running boards. After being ridiculed by Freddy and my friend for having driven the Raptor through the mud pit when I was supposed to drive to Utah that day, I ran out to grab Project Swiss Cheese, my 1995 Jeep Cherokee.

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After breaking the first tow strap (which, I’ll admit, was rather tattered), I hooked up a new one, and gave the enormous Raptor a tug. From the seat of my Cherokee, it felt like I was towing a sequoia tree; I accelerated the little 3,200 pound Cherokee with everything that Kenosha, Wisconsin-built 4.0-liter had to offer, only to be brought to an abrupt halt once the strap went taught. The Raptor wasn’t moving.

Fearing I’d break my second and final strap, I broke out the shovel, dug the mud out from underneath the running boards, and flattened the big holes the four tires had dug themselves into. Then, after a number a hard yanks, I finally managed to tow the Raptor into the dry grass.

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Fast forward a few days to after I’d received that cryptic text from my landlord: I walked over, nervously, and rang the doorbell. My landlord answered immediately, and directed me to come inside. “Have a seat,” she said, pointing to a chair placed in the center of the living room. “Oh god, this is it,” I thought to myself. After the whole dishwasher fiasco, and after rebuilding a transfer case in my kitchen—I had finally crossed the line.

My other landlord (the husband) then walked into the room, and the couple sat down to have what I could tell was definitely going to be a serious talk with me. “It’s about the backyard,” they said, confirming my fears.

My heart pounded in my chest. How long would I have to pack? What do I do about the vehicles that won’t move under their own power? How much will it cost to tow them all to my new house? How am I going to find another affordable place with a garage? All of these thoughts ran through my mind as sweat began to bead on my brow.

That’s when my landlord got to the point: “After talking it over, we’re going to need you to take that mudding you do in your backyard...over to our backyard.”

The record scratched.

“Yes, the neighbor complained that you were lowering property values by mudding in the backyard so close to his, and he complained that you were making noise, so just come over to our backyard when you want to go mudding. We’ll show you the soft spots.”

The record scratched again. What the?

Gathering my thoughts, I responded “That sounds fine to me” as I tried to hide my surprise.

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That’s when my landlords—one from Bangladesh, and one from India—told me that they really don’t understand why the neighbor was being such a grump. That muddy backyard, they said, was basically a standard road where they’re from. So what’s the big deal?

They also told me that the neighbor had complained about the “junk” I had in my front yard, presumably referring to my old Jeeps. My landlords told me they didn’t understand why he meant that, as they found my vehicles perfectly acceptable.

“Plus,” they went on, “We love that Willys Jeep of yours. We’ve got lots of them where we’re from. We think it’s amazing that you’re actually driving yours.”

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That’s when one of my landlords pulled a small table up to me, and the other brought out a meal. Fried chicken, some fruits, a nice Tang-like drink: it was wonderful.

What a turn of events! I thought my landlords were going to kick my butt out of the house for turning my backyard into a mud pit (I don’t see why that’s a big deal, but many friends and commenters seem to think it is), but instead, they just asked me to off-road in their backyard (which is, like, 20 feet from mine), and then they fed me a meal!

Photo: Freddy Hernandez


I don’t really see what’s wrong with a mud pit in a backyard. If you ask me, it should increase property value; you can go mudding whenever you want! I also don’t get how someone with two Hummer H2s parked in his driveway (perhaps the most worthless vehicle of our time) could possibly think my old Jeeps are junk. That just seems odd.

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The fact that my landlords see it the way I do makes me the luckiest tenant on earth.