The price tag for good deeds is very steep these day. And so begins the Great Lawnmower Saga of 2011...
You see, the neighbours went away a couple of weeks ago. Being a nice person (I can hear you laughing, you know), I decided to mow their lawn for them just before they came home, figuring that's the last thing I'd want to do right after a vacation!
However, I didn't realize there was a metal pipe of some sort poking up though the lawn. A pipe, capped with a flat metal piece held on by two bolts.
Well, one bolt now, since I sheared off the other one with my mower. And killed my mower in the process. Although I'm not that mechanically inclined, I figured it was dead when I turned it over, and all the innards fell out. I'm intuitive like that.
Of course, the two hostas planted in the middle of the neighbour's front yard now make much more sense - too bad I didn't realize they are there to mark the location of the pipe!
Now, my mower was a very cheap, very basic electric mower, that has served me well since I bought it two years ago, and if it was still in working order, I'd still be using it. But, as I've put more gardens in the yard, it has gotten more and more frustrating to drag a 100' power cord behind me, trying to make sure it's not dragging over something I want to keep alive. Mowing has gone from something I really enjoy, to just another chore to be gotten through.
I thought long and hard when it came time to pick another mower. I really do like the idea of electric mowers, and I like reel ones even better, but the reality is I'm getting older every year, and my yard is not getting any smaller or easier to mow. I also wanted a bagger, which would allow me to bag up that wonderful nitrogen (in the form of grass clipping and fallen leaves) and use it for mulch or add it to the compost.
So I caved.
I went gas powered. Yep, a horribly polluting, expensive, gas powered lawn mower. Oddly enough, the first one I have ever used (growing up, our yards were always large enough we had riding mowers). Of course, buying a lawn mower, like usual for me, was easier said than done.
I tried Walmart: No, we don't have that model, it's in the warehouse, I mean on a truck, I mean it's been ordered, no I can't tell you when it will get here, no I can't hold it for you, no no no no no. But feel free to go out of your way every day to stop in (oh, I guess you could phone) and see if we have it yet.
I tried (and I really should know better) Home Depot: Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Go to customer disservice, ask for help. Seasonal paged to the lawnmower section. Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Guy walks by on his way home, realizes I'm waiting, pages seasonal to lawnmowers again. Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Clerk approaches... and veers off to help someone with a patio set (all the while looking at me, so she knows I'm waiting for help). Customer leaves, clerk heads in my direction.... only to answer the phone, and spend five minutes talking to someone looking for a part. That's when I lost it, and went back to customer disservice. A bit of a rant later, I got a very nice lady (Liz from Liverpool) to help - she answers my questions, and brings the mower I selected up to cash.
It's the wrong mower.
Wait, wait, wait, wait wait. She brings another mower up to cash. It rings up $50 less than it should have, but I just thought it was on sale (I really, really, really, really, really should know better). We struggle to get it into the car - the only way it will fit is to take it out of the box and tip it into the back seat. We realize this after scratching the back bumper trying to get it into the trunk. Grrrrrr....
Get it home, get it out of the back seat...
It's the wrong mower.
I had figured I would have trouble starting a mower with a pull cord thingy, so I splurged for the key-start feature. No key start on this mower. The one thing I really wanted...
Now, I was in Home Depot for AN HOUR AND A HALF, trying to buy a damn lawn mower. Some of that time was spent looking at all the different options, but the major part was spent trying to get help to buy the damn thing. So, the last thing I wanted to do was struggle to put the damn thing back in the car, drive back to Home Depot, and repeat the whole business. Besides, the grass was getting to the schnauzer-eating stage again, and I was afraid I'd loose a dog if it wasn't mowed soon...
I got the mower assembled, and started, no problem. Mowed half the lawn (oddly enough, the self-propelled feature didn't seem to make that much of a difference, but what do I know about gas mowers?). I had to stop the mower a half dozen times to move things, and it started up again fine each time.
Until it didn't. I tried everything. I even read the manual. Would. Not. Start.
The last thing I want is to be frustrated on a regular basis while trying to mow the lawn. The whole thing with Home Depot frustrated me to no end, and the fact that I got the wrong mower, and one that didn't even work properly (and it was NOT cheap), made the whole thing so much worse.
Of course, a mower filled with gas and oil won't go back in my car without spilling fluids all over the place...
I know stores have return policies, and I even give Home Depot credit for having a great one.
But they can't return my wasted time, and the time Dad wasted coming to my house, putting the mower in the back of the truck, driving to the store, returning the mower, and driving to Canadian Tire to get another one.
So, after way too much grief and wasted time, I now have a new lawn mower. One that starts with a key, every time. (Well, one that starts after Dad made another trip over here this morning to teach me that it helps when you have the spark plug connected. Ooops!). One that really is self-propelled, and has a speed control to boot (I'm glad it does, because I'd look damn funny trying to mow the lawn while running to keep up!) And one that allows me to mow the lawn in about HALF the time it took with the electric mower.
Yes, it pollutes much more than my old mower (but less than the old 2-stroke engines). But the time saved will be put to good use. And I can collect clippings to help the garden. And it has turned mowing back into something enjoyable again.
And it's red :)
Oh, and I vow, once again, to NEVER shop at Home Depot EVER again.