Hints have been dropped that I’m a difficult person to buy a Christmas present for. I don’t know why though – I enjoy so many different things: gardening, music, film, the arts, scrap booking, and so on. This year, in view of my passion for all things yardwork related, I thought something useful like a small wood chipper or leaf blower would be nice. However, considering my history with anything even remotely mechanical – perhaps they’re not such good ideas. You be the judge.
My latest equipment altercation involved our weed eater. With Daryle busy working on levelling our deck I wanted to attack the weeds that were threatening to take over my back yard. “Really dear, I can handle it, can’t be any more difficult than our small chainsaw or hedge trimmer.” Both of which I’ve operated uneventfully with good results. Daryle got me set up: steel-toed wellies, eye protection, work gloves, earplugs, topped up the fuel and showed me how to dispense more twine. He didn’t show me how to turn it off though…
Soon weed corpses and small chunks of earth were strewn all over the place. HA! What power, what a racket, what fun! What vibration… what numbness in my arms and hands… The massacre over, I needed to turn off the weed eater, great machine of destruction that it was. Daryle was nowhere in sight to help. Good – I like to deal with things on my own. If only I knew where the “off switch” was. Surely this beast had one. Let’s see, they’re usually red, hmm. Oh, way back there, near the motor of course (blond moment – it soon passed). Now how on earth was I supposed to get to it? My hands were quite literally locked in place: one supported the weight of the weed eater while holding the throttle and the other hand had a death-grip on the ‘steering’ handle. The machine stuttered and the vibrations became even worse when the throttle was released. After a bit of repositioning, my right hand was free to turn the switch off. Easy, right? Not so much. My hand was so numb I couldn’t hold my finger stiffly enough to flick the switch. At this point I was hoping that it would just run out of fuel and starve itself into silence. Couldn’t put the damned thing down either, not with that whippy thing at its business end winging about. How humiliating. Finally, after several attempts, I managed to turn it off. Sigh of relief, at least now I could put it down and let some feeling return to my arms and hands. Not my best work with yard equipment.
However the weed eater episode wasn’t my worst machine experience. Not by a long shot. At least nothing had been harmed, aside from my ego and the weeds of course. When we lived at a condo in Guildford I was thrilled to have a dishwasher for the first time. Ooooo… I was able to wash everything! I left the machine running on a special load of things like toothbrushes, hairbrushes and gungy soap dishes and dispensers. Off I went to meet my sister to run some errands. Upon returning, we found the new maple-laminate hardwood kitchen floor deeply covered in soap suds and water. Guess the gungy soap dispenser still had some soap in it – oops! Frantically we mopped up the water and suds, but we were too late. The damage had been done – the laminate had warped and the edges had risen slightly. After the floor had dried a darkish stain remained at all the joints.
Now, I’ve covered off two natural elements: earth with the weed eater and water with the dishwasher. How about fire? I’m sure I have a fire story. Ah, yes, the Coleman stove adventure. While camping in the Salmon Arm area a year or two ago, I decided to heat up some water to make hot chocolate on a slightly chilly evening. Pretty simple: light stove, put kettle of water on stove, wait. Man, that kettle was taking a terribly long time to boil. Oh dear, the flame had gone out. I re-lit the flame without thinking. Whoooosh! Our little camp stove instantly turned into a fireball! Yikes. I quickly removed the fuel tank so that I wouldn’t have an explosion on my hands in addition to my already singed bangs and burnt kettle handle. Removing the fuel tank had the added benefit of removing any further source of fuel for the fire. After a few minutes the fire went out and I carried on making the hot chocolate. Daniel’s “Is the hot chocolate ready Mommy?” replied with “I’ll be right there love, just give me a moment to trim off the burnt bits of hair from my bangs.”
These three instances are good examples of why I should never, never be left alone or in charge of a piece of equipment, let alone given one as a present. If I haven’t convinced you yet, I have more proof. How about the time I accidentally poured hot tea into a business calculator at work or the time I inadvertently filled the bread maker with water instead of putting the water into the bread loaf pan. Past gifts of a glue gun, power stapler and electric sander have each had rather eventful lives and I’ll never forget the times my red Volkswagen Rabbit would repeatedly stall all the way up the Alex Fraser Bridge (water in the gas tank is a very bad thing, especially when it freezes during a cold spell).
I’m beginning to see why I’m difficult to buy for. Those who know me, understand that I’m challenged when it comes to operating just about ANYTHING. Challenged, yet I have a burning desire to try everything. For everyone’s well being, I’m now hoping they choose something flame-resistant, un-motorised and with no moving bits. At least the odds of hurting myself or others will be greatly reduced. Can you imagine what fun, er, trouble I’d get into with a wood chipper?