We are blessed with a beautiful forest behind our new home. The problem is that the trees need a bit of trimming, and that means I need to get out the chainsaw, a device I am only familiar with because of R-rated movies.
I had a chainsaw at our old house but found it to be a very inefficient tool. I took it back to the dealer and I told him it took me hours to cut down one little limb. “Let me give it a try,” said the clerk, and then he pulled the cord.
VAROOM!
“Geez, what’s that loud noise?” I asked him. “It never did that before.”
“Look, Mr. Wolfsie, I once saw you walk into a plate glass window on your morning TV segment. You are not the kind of person who should mess with power tools.”
I’m actually very good with power tools. I have never once had a problem starting my lawn mower. I did have one accident, though. I almost broke my nose when I tripped over the extension cord to my weed wacker.
The chainsaw had been untouched in our old garage for about 25 years, which is also true of Step 4 of the Scott’s lawn fertilizer, because by the end of fall, I really don’t care what my lawn looks like. I also have two leaf blowers—one to blow the leaves and one to suck up the leaves. Both tools can perform either of those tasks with a minor mechanical adjustment, but that involves reading an entire page of the owner’s manual. (Like I would understand any of that.)
During last year’s storms, we were sitting in the living room and heard a crash. A fairly good-sized tree had blown down and grazed the side of the house. My wife immediately panicked. “Relax,” I told her. “We’re okay.”
“No, we’re in danger! This means you’re going to use that chainsaw.”
The next day, I dug through the huge storage box in the garage filled with barbeque and gardening equipment, sprinkler heads, and rusty tools. I found the implement and cradled it gingerly in my arms. How am I supposed to start this thing? I wondered. There was one doo-dad labeled “choke,” and I did. There was also a little plastic bubble that I vaguely remembered I had to push several times. Not sure why. I pulled the cord once…twice…30 times. Suddenly, the motor began to hum. But the chain didn’t turn. I needed help.
I didn’t want to look stupid, so I checked online and armed myself with just enough information to be as dangerous as the chainsaw. I found a small nearby motor repair shop and drove over. An elderly gentleman asked if he could assist me.
“Yes, I think the clutch isn’t engaging and there’s a sprocket misalignment that’s making the chain stick,” I said, but I didn’t have a clue what I was talking about. He picked up the saw, pushed a button and said: “The safety was on.”
I didn’t bat an eye. “Thanks! What do I owe you?” I asked the man, who now looked vaguely familiar to me.
“Forget it,” he graciously offered. Then, as I started to leave, he added: “Be careful, Mr. Wolfsie. You’re about to walk into another plate glass window.”
Dick Wolfsie appears weekdays on television sharing his humor, stories and video essays. His column appears weekly in The Paper of Montgomery County. E-mail Dick at Wolfsie@aol.com.