Back Cracking and Mower Mania | HumorOutcasts

Back Cracking and Mower Mania

August 6, 2017
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So … kind of a sucky week.

Actually, all of July kind of sucked, and the first few days of August just went along with it. Come to think of it, 2017 as a whole hasn’t exactly been stellar.

But never mind that, let’s go to the lawn mower:

For the record, the tire is not supposed to go that direction.

This is the same mower my stepfather repaired for me after the carburetor crapped out. A carburetor is a … thing … that does … something … in an engine. According to my wife’s research, the carburetors in this particular engine brand are now made out of plastic. Plastic in a piece of equipment that’s designed to burn stuff under pressure. Yeah.

Now, this would be the same mower that gave me other problems, including a gas cap that wouldn’t stay on and other small pieces that seemed to fall off at random. In addition, the little bar that stops the mower from running if you release the handle kept it from starting at all, until I bent the control wire in an un-designed direction. In retrospect, I should have known it was a lemon from the get-go, but it didn’t become clear to me until after the warranty ran out.

And now there I was, pushing the mower across the yard, when suddenly the cut became uneven. It became uneven because one of the tires came off. And it wasn’t just the tire: The whole assembly that held the tire to the mower deck just peeled away, like wet cardboard.

(I checked: It wasn’t wet cardboard. It was metal that looked like web cardboard.)

So, for the second time, I didn’t get to finish. I showed the above photo to my wife, and began my prepared speech, which was to be, “If you want to have someone fix it, that’s fine, but you’ve got one week to get it done before I trash this piece of–”

I didn’t get beyond “If you want” before she said, “Oh, we’re getting rid of that thing.”

My wife is a consummate researcher. It’s because of her that I know about plastic carburetors, and what “consummate” means. It’s in the dictionary. Who knew? Within days she narrowed down the new mowers, and then we went shopping.

For years I avoided mowers with grass catchers, because they fill up after about two passes. It took longer to mow a lawn than it does for me to assemble furniture, and I don’t have that kind of time. But now we have a compost heap, which loves grass clippings, so Emily found a mower that could change between a rear bagger and a side discharge. Not only that, but it has four working wheels, and a three year warranty. Heaven in the grass.

It only took me a few hours to get it put together. And I needed to get on it, because the last two times I mowed, only about a third got done before disaster struck. It had been so long that the part already mowed needed it again, and that’s where I started–a flat section, where I could get used to the new equipment.

I was being careful, you see.

But I didn’t take something into consideration. I accounted for the new mower,  but not the extra weight of the bag filling up. So, when I went to turn a corner on a hill, the mower zigged and my spine zagged.

I’d mowed a third of the lawn–the same third I mowed last time–before my lower back went “twang!”

It didn’t sound exactly like that, of course, but that’s kind of how it felt. And that’s why I didn’t go online much for awhile: It hurt to type. It hurt to walk, sit, lay down, lift a finger, swallow, think … well, it hurt to think about the pain, anyway. It hurt so much that I came to appreciate my  chronic back pain. Sure, that hurt all the time too, but it didn’t feel like the red hot barbed tridents they use in Hell.

But my wife, through experience, has become a very good nurse. Three days later I was able to go back to work, and if you ask me I did a pretty good job of hiding the fact that my pain had only been reduced to agony status.

What have I learned from this, you ask? Well, first, always keep some of the good pain pills around the house. More important, either get a goat, or hire someone to mow your lawn. I’m leaning toward that last–I can only imagine how badly I’d get hurt dealing with a goat.

Mark R Hunter

Mark R Hunter is the author of three romantic comedies: Radio Red, Storm Chaser, and its sequel, The Notorious Ian Grant, as well as a related story collection, Storm Chaser Shorts. He also wrote a young adult adventure, The No-Campfire Girls, and a humor collection, Slightly Off the Mark. In addition, he collaborated with his wife, Emily, on the history books Images of America: Albion and Noble County, Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights: A Century or So With The Albion Fire Department, and Hoosier Hysterical. Mark’s work also appeared in the anthologies My Funny Valentine and Strange Portals: Ink Slingers’ Fantasy/Horror Anthology.

For two decades Mark R Hunter has been an emergency dispatcher for the Noble County Sheriff Department. He’s served over 32 years as a volunteer for the Albion Fire Department, holding such positions as safety officer, training officer, secretary, and public information officer. He also has done public relations writing for the Noble County Relay For Life, among other organizations, and served two terms on the Albion Town Council. When asked if he has any free time, he laughs hysterically.

Mark lives in Albion, Indiana, with his wife and editor Emily, a cowardly ball python named Lucius, and a loving, scary dog named Beowulf. He has two daughters and twin grandsons, and so naturally is considering writing a children’s book.

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4 Responses to Back Cracking and Mower Mania

  1. August 7, 2017 at 8:23 pm

    Man vs. machine. The machines win every time.

    Some day I’ll tell you about the saga of my learning how to drive a car, including once when I almost totaled our car, with my father in it.

    • August 11, 2017 at 2:22 am

      That would give me nightmares of back when my kids were learning to drive.
      Me, I never had any major problems as a new driver, as long as you don’t count the whole going the wrong way on a one way street thing.

  2. August 7, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    This was a hoot, Mark. I vote for the goat. You’re sure to get a great story out of it!

    • August 11, 2017 at 2:38 am

      I’ll bet I would! Unfortunately, I live in town limits and they don’t allow farm animals. This may be the final push to get us to move out of town, so my wife can get that horse she so desperately wants.



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