Saturday, May 09, 2009

I’m not good at this stuff

Yesterday I took my most definitive step into adulthood.

I bought my first lawnmower.

Yup, you really know you're not a teenager any more when you not only acknowledge the grass in front of and behind your house, you actually start to show concern about how it looks.

Actually, that's a little bit of a lie. I've always liked a well-kept lawn and I'd keep our grass manicured if I had the option. My problem is that the portion of grass on the property designated as 'ours' covers about an acre and a half, we didn't own a lawnmower…and the family members that do own one act like I'm going to deliberately destroy it if I borrow it, or run away with it and sell it for crack the minute their back's turned.

Yeah, when you borrow a riding lawnmower a couple of times, cut your own grass, their grass and return the thing in mint condition with a full tank of gas, it gets old really quick when you ask to borrow it again and they act like you're asking them to co-sign for a mortgage.

So, we decided to stretch our finances and buy our own lawnmower. Obviously, we couldn't afford one of those nice riding lawnmowers, but we could just scrape a gas powered push mower (An electric one would be less than useless).

Anyway, when we went to Lowes, we looked at the selection on offer and bought the cheapest for about a hundred and fifty bucks, but alarm bells started to ring almost immediately. Why was this one only a hundred and fifty bucks when the one at the other end of the aisle was almost six hundred. I asked Sunny as she's the 'country' half of our relationship and she looked at me wisely and said "With those, you're just paying for the name."

We got it home and Sunny forbid me from putting it together as it was her night off. Today, when she left for work, I got bored and decided to leaf through the instructions. I won't lie to you here, if putting the thing together required almost any 'real' engineering, I wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole and call my stepson to do it for me. You see, my stepson is great with engines and fixing things, whereas if I start trying to build anything with the word 'engine', 'gasoline' and 'spinning blades'…let's face it, it's going to end in carnage.

The instructions were actually, for once, incredibly simple. All you really have to do is put the wheels on, adjust the handle to your preferred height and bolt it into place. I grabbed my adjustable wrench and set to work.

Now, you know how sometimes you'll handle a gadget or piece of machinery and I just oozes quality? That you can tell it was made by experts using only the absolute best of raw materials to an almost impossibly high standard?

Well, this was the opposite of that.

Putting the wheels on consisted of pushing a long bolt through a plastic wheel, slipping on a washer, threading the bolt through the body of the mower and fastening it in place with a nut on the other side. This should have been simple, but the holes in the mower's casing were just slightly too small for the bolt, meaning it took forever to convince them to go through. The back wheels wouldn't go on at all because the bolt has to go through the mower body and the plate where the handle fits to the main chassis…and that plate had been bolted into place with the holes just slightly out of alignment…and the bolts were so tight that they were impossible to remove without shearing the bolt or rounding the head. I had to go at it with a hammer to get the holes to line up, which made mincemeat out of the paintwork.

Also, you needed the forearm strength of a gorilla to adjust the handle.

Basically, by the time I'd gotten four wheels on and attached the handle, an hour had passed, I was drenched with sweat and my forearms felt like they were on fire. Then I discovered something interesting. While the instructions claim that the mower has 'three different cutting positions', changing between them requires taking all the wheels off and putting them back on again using different holes!

Yeah, whatever cutting height it's at now, it's staying that way.

Anyway, it's put together, filled with oil and just needs to be gassed up in order to be ready to go. I hope it's easier to cut grass with the thing than it is to put together, although the way it's gone so far, I'm likely to pull the starter and end up with half my fingers gone and a blade embedded in my head.

Wish me luck.

1 comment:

Sunny said...

Oh Lord.

Now I don't even want to THINK about firing it up.