When I was a teenager my friend and I cut lawns to earn money. I would say that cutting lawns sucks and everyone hates to do it…and that would be a true statement. However, as a teenager who was good at math, it was not difficult for my parents to illustrate to me that I’d make a lot more than minimum wage if I pursued that over a job at McDonald’s.
One drawback to cutting lawns as an occupation is the wear-and-tear that it puts on the mower.
I remember that we owned a Sears Lawnmower. Sears mowers are not top of the line, but they’re decent enough, and this one held up really well…until one day when I was cutting some particularly deep grass and ran it into a tree stump. At this point the mower ceased to hold up…at all.
It would be unfair for me to complain about this – it’s probably not right to expect that any lawn mower could defeat a tree stump.
I seem to remember my father yelling at me so loud that I was no longer able to hear out of my right ear from then on out.
Actually…that’s not true…it just seemed that way.
In truth, once he calmed down he struck an agreement with me: we’d buy a Toro, which was probably better equipped to handle ten-plus lawns per week…and we’d each pitch in half.
Back then this seemed like a punishment…but at the age of forty it seems like an excellent deal, considering I’d run over a tree stump with his lawn mower that afternoon.
It wound up being true – the Toro held up through everything…and I was damn careful not to hit another tree stump.
Recently, Post Tween began his own lawn service.
Don’t be too impressed – had we let him, he would have preferred to stay in his room and watch You Tube videos of the Blue Angels or play on his drum set. The boy doesn’t really need the money…he gets plenty for his birthday, we let him keep part of it…and he spends none.
When we ask him if he’d like to use money to buy something, he tells us he has a drum set and a computer with You Tube and is good-to-go.
When we ask him if he’d like to head to the movies with friends, or order a pizza with friends…he says he’d prefer to watch You Tube videos of the Blue Angels or play on his drum set.
For some time, I was concerned the kid had no friends, but we’ve been at some school events and I see him around a crowd of kids all the time. I know that he’s not paying them to help him put up a front, because again…he has more money than he knows what to do with and spends none of it.
When this is all taken together, it leads to the following result: he places no value on money and is lazy because of it.
We had grown tired of this.
We informed him that he was going to get a job and it was not optional. Then we laid out how much he’d make working at McDonald’s vs. how much he could make if he cut three or four lawns per week.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree: he picked lawns.
So now he has his own lawn business…
We, too, have a Craftsman Mower. Because I recalled that a Toro was durable, I decided I should get ahead of the curve and search for something similar.
I looked around a bit, and then purchased a Husqvarna. This was an awesome all-wheel drive mower. It cost a bit over four-hundred dollars, but I believed it would last and it would be worth it.
I brought it home and showed it to Post Tween. I explained it was all-wheel drive. To my surprise, even he was excited.
At that time, I relayed my story of the lawn mower collision with the tree stump. I explained that if he were ever cutting a yard where the grass was really long, it was imperative to be careful, because a tree stump could bend the shaft on the engine of the lawn mower.
I told him that if he remembered nothing else…he was to remember that.
Oh…also don’t cut your foot off.
He shook his head and assured me I had nothing to worry about.
A week later I was out running errands and returned home to find Post Tween, his mother, and our brand new Husqvarna Lawn Mower in our driveway. Post Tween and Mrs. Lisakbooks were staring at the mower the way that you see people in a movie staring at a U.F.O. after it’s just landed…and they’re not sure what to make of it.
“What happened?” I asked.
“It won’t start,” Mrs. Lisakbooks replied. “I think it might have to go back.”
I groaned. I couldn’t believe that this high quality product might be defective.
“Can you see if you can get it started?” Mrs. Lisakbooks asked.
“Sure,” I said.
I walked over, pulled the cord several times, and nothing happened.
At this point, I should have noticed that Post Tween had not contributed to the discussion and was oddly silent…but I did not.
“Go get the Craftsman and finish your lawns,” I said to him.
At this point, I should have noticed that he ran off happily with the other mower to continue cutting grass…and no one is that happy to go cut grass.
Again, I am fairly oblivious and failed to notice this.
Instead, I continued to try to start this mower for about another ten minutes. I cussed at it several times and expressed to Mrs. Lisakbooks that I couldn’t believe I’d bought one of the better mowers on the market and the damn thing had to go back.
I don’t know precisely when it happened…but at some point during this tirade a thought came across my mind.
I turned the mower over on its side, pulled the spark plug, and attempted to rotate the blade by hand.
Allow me a brief digression.
I have a degree in Mechanical Engineering…but you should know that I am not mechanically inclined…and I will admit this.
I went into engineering because I’m a nerd who loves math and science…but would be lucky if I could inflate a tire on a car.
Many people fail to understand the difference between a Mechanical Engineer and a mechanic. This is me explaining it to you…
I should mention that not all engineers are like me…but you can get away with being like me as an engineer.
If you watch The Big Bang Theory perhaps you’ll recall the scene where their car broke down. Leonard asked if anyone knew anything about internal combustion engines and the entire car responded with several facts about how they worked. He emphasized that he needed to know if anyone could fix one…and the car went silent.
That is me.
All of that said, when I rotated the blade on this lawnmower and watched it wiggle around like Ke$ha as it made its revolution, even I was able to determine something was wrong.
Fortunately for Post Tween, he was not present right at this instant. I was unhappy, but I was intent on not losing my temper. I wanted to teach him a lesson while still maintaining control of my own anger.
Some time had passed before he arrived home, and I’d had time to think back on my own experience…where my father was stern but fair. I wanted…let me emphasize wanted…to take a similar approach.
“I need you to be honest with me,” I said to Post Tween. “Did you hit anything with the mower?”
To his credit, he didn’t say no.
“Um, yeah,” he replied, “I hit a twig…”
I think he wanted…let me emphasize wanted…to be honest with me.
“Really?” I replied. “A twig? How big was the twig?”
“I’m not sure,” he said with some hesitation.
“Big enough that after you hit it the mower never…started…AGAIN?!?” I screamed.
“Mmm-hmm,” he muttered.
At this point I blew a gasket.
To be fair, my father didn’t immediately resort to the stern but fair approach either. As I told you earlier, I recall my father blowing a gasket initially before finally taking that stern but fair approach several hours later…so I feel I was due this outburst.
Eventually, my wind pipes got tired and I couldn’t yell anymore. Then time passed, and I settled down.
Eventually, this all turned out okay…and I would like to believe that will be the last twig he ever hits with a lawn mower.
Again: the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Just don’t hit the freaking apple with your lawn mower.