We are blessed with a beautiful forest behind our new home. The problem is that the trees need a bit of trimming, and that means I need to get out the chainsaw, a device I am only familiar with because of R-rated movies.
I had a chainsaw at our old house but found it to be a very inefficient tool. I took it back to the dealer and I told him it took me hours to cut down one little limb. “Let me give it a try,” said the clerk, and then he pulled the cord.
“Geez, what’s that loud noise?” I asked him. “It never did that before.”
“Look, Mr. Wolfsie, I once saw you walk into a plate glass window on your morning TV segment. You are not the kind of person who should mess with power tools.”
I’m actually very good with power tools. I have never once had a problem starting my lawn mower. I did have one accident, though. I almost broke my nose when I tripped over the extension cord to my weed wacker.
The chainsaw had been untouched in our old garage for about 25 years, which is also true of Step 4 of the Scott’s lawn fertilizer, because by the end of fall, I really don’t care what my lawn looks like. I also have two leaf blowers—one to blow the leaves and one to suck up the leaves. Both tools can perform either of those tasks with a minor mechanical adjustment, but that involves reading an entire page of the owner’s manual. (Like I would understand any of that.)
During last year’s storms, we were sitting in the living room and heard a crash. A fairly good-sized tree had blown down and grazed the side of the house. My wife immediately panicked. “Relax,” I told her. “We’re okay.”
“No, we’re in danger! This means you’re going to use that chainsaw.”
The next day, I dug through the huge storage box in the garage filled with barbeque and gardening equipment, sprinkler heads, and rusty tools. I found the implement and cradled it gingerly in my arms. How am I supposed to start this thing? I wondered. There was one doo-dad labeled “choke,” and I did. There was also a little plastic bubble that I vaguely remembered I had to push several times. Not sure why. I pulled the cord once…twice…30 times. Suddenly, the motor began to hum. But the chain didn’t turn. I needed help.
I didn’t want to look stupid, so I checked online and armed myself with just enough information to be as dangerous as the chainsaw. I found a small nearby motor repair shop and drove over. An elderly gentleman asked if he could assist me.
“Yes, I think the clutch isn’t engaging and there’s a sprocket misalignment that’s making the chain stick,” I said, but I didn’t have a clue what I was talking about. He picked up the saw, pushed a button and said: “The safety was on.”
I didn’t bat an eye. “Thanks! What do I owe you?” I asked the man, who now looked vaguely familiar to me.
“Forget it,” he graciously offered. Then, as I started to leave, he added: “Be careful, Mr. Wolfsie. You’re about to walk into another plate glass window.”