I used to have a very simple three-part checklist to go over when purchasing a new lawnmower:
- Does it meet my wife’s pre-approved budgetary ceiling?
- Does it start after one or two pulls?
- Can it roll over any and everything its path — including but not limited to sticks, rocks, toys, lawn furniture and laundry that has fallen off a clothesline — and still keep grinding away?
If the answer was yes to these, consider new mower purchased. And based on number three, that might explain why I purchase lawn mowers slightly more often than most people purchase shoes.
Yes, I am not exactly gentle on my mowers. But after my previous mower’s death, I found it was time to reevaluate things in my life.
My last mower was purchased off of Craig’s List, so while it did not come with a warranty, it did come with the guarantee of hours of anxiety leading up to the sale as I went through the many scenarios in which this transaction would go bad and I would end up in the news as just another one of the Craig’s List Lawn Mower Killer’s victims. “HOW COULD YOU NOT HAVE SEEN THIS COMING, MIKE!?!?!?” I said to myself about 30 seconds before getting out and handing a guy some cash in the driveway of his very nice home. (Spoiler alert: He did not kill me.)
This mower was pretty solid for the first few uses. Started quickly. Mowed over whatever was in its path. Seemed to be a pretty solid character.
And then it revealed itself. I had filled up the gas tank prior to cutting the yard. My yard is not that big, so it does not take a whole tank of gas to cut the entire thing. In fact, it maybe takes a quarter of a tank. So when I finished, there was plenty of gas still in the mower.
Fast forward about an hour, and there was not plenty of gas in the mower. There was plenty of gas on the mower. There was plenty of gas around the mower. Even I can determine that is not ideal functionality from a gas tank.
At this point, something in me snapped. I was tired of messing with mowers. (Even if I was often the reason they were breaking.) I was tired of dealing with gasoline. I was tired of having chunks of children’s toys shoot out of the mower at lethal speeds when I run over them in the yard.
So I decided punt my requirements for a mower. I went rogue. When I told my wife my decision, she said, “Really?” Indeed, I had decided I would buy an electric mower. The cheapest one I could find. One that was just probably slightly more powerful than a ceiling fan.
I found one online for under $100. “Remember,” my wife said, “you get what you pay for.” I reminded her that my last purchase cost more and resulted in about three mows and a gas leak. “Fair enough,” she said.
In a few days, my mower arrived. The assembly took roughly four seconds, as it involved snapping the handle onto the base.
There is no cord to pull to start. Rather, you plug it in and push a button, and off it roars. OK, purrs.
It is not going to run over any large objects any time soon. In fact, the first time I used it, it ran up against some rather thick St. Augustine and had to make a few passes to get through it.
And yes, trailing an extension cord did occasionally present a hiccup during the mowing as it decided to get tangled around a wheel or a foot or a nearby tree. Upside – just stop and untangle, and then push the button again and you’re back and running.
And yes, I have to manage my personal expectations of yard manliness (or lack thereof) I am exuding. Sure you can have a conversation at normal tone while the mower is running. That doesn’t make me any less of man.
I have now mowed the yard a few times with it. It takes me a little bit longer than previously, but not by more than a few minutes. And so far, I don’t have to deal with any mechanical issues, and certainly no gas issues.
So I will continue with my adorable little electric mower for the time being. I will clear the path before I mow, and I will deal with the cord as I need to. And I will try and keep this one in good condition and hopefully won’t have to buy another one for a long time. After all, I’ve dodged the Craig’s List Lawn Mower Killer once. No sense in tempting fate a second time.
Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he now lives in Mt. Pleasant. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.