A Cautionary Tale

He was filled with pride when he started up his new lawnmower for the first time. It had a wide deck, a self-propelled motor, and – best of all – claimed to be able to mulch up yard waste into a fine green mist, eliminating the need for raking or bagging. Since he was no fan or raking or bagging yard waste, he considered the new lawnmower to be a keen purchase indeed.

But when he finished mowing, his enthusiasm was somewhat diminished. Looking back on the lawn, he couldn’t help but notice how un-mulched all the grass clippings looked. Indeed, they looked like he had cut it with a regular old, non-mulching lawnmower. To be completely honest, his yard was a bit of a mess.

Nevertheless, he sucked it up, and mowed the lawn with that same lawnmower (mostly) every weekend for over a decade. While he wouldn’t admit it, his anger and resentment were slowly building up.

He would, of course, make minor changes in a vain attempt to address the problem. He’d set the deck higher or lower. Sharpen the blade. He would mow the lawn lengthwise one week, widthwise the other. But no matter what he did, the results were the same: a yard full of ugly, un-mulched clippings to seemed to openly mock him.

His disappointment was made all the worse at seeing the lawns of his neighbors, all of which were finely cut with nary a clipping to be found upon them.

Eventually, he resigned himself to his lot in life. His yard simply wouldn’t look as nice as his neighbors’, at least not until he bought a new lawnmower.

And then his wife started asking questions.

She too had noted the striking difference between her lawn and her neighbors’. But instead of resigning herself to the situation, she began watching, and taking note. She noticed, for instance, that when the neighbors mowed, they did so without the side discharge open.

Finding this observation interesting, she did a little more research, and stumbled upon the terrible truth: her husband had been mowing the lawn wrong for well over a decade. The fancy mulching lawnmower, it seemed, couldn’t mulch up anything if it was spitting everything out immediately after they’d been cut.

Armed with this knowledge, she informed her husband and suggested (demanded) they he try it her way. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that it worked, and worked well.

So what’s the point of this tale? That the husband is an idiot, and should have just talked things through with his wife? Well, I suppose that’s part of it, yes. But it goes a little further than that.

You should understand how the equipment you’re using is supposed to work, and make sure you’re using it correctly. In this case, the mistake only led to an ugly lawn, but in different circumstances someone could have gotten hurt.