Brown River Queen cover art

Monday, June 13, 2011

Another Thing I Hate

Once upon a time, there was a lawn mower I hated with every fiber of my hate-covered, hate-filled, hate-centered being.

I hated that mower.  I hated every bolt, every nut, every linkage, every cotter pin, every mis-shaped and leaky hose.  I hated the sound the engine made on those rare occasions when it did crank and I hated the smirking silence it exuded on the far more frequent occasions when it didn't.  I used to lie awake at night and imagine myself smashing it into bits with a ten pound sledge hammer.  Remember the printer-in-the-field scene from the movie Office Space?  Where the guys take the copier that's bedeviled them and go on a primal-ape ragefest that ends when there's just nothing left to kick?

Yeah.  That, but with the kind of mad-eyed rage one normally associates with 25 consecutive lifetime prison sentences.  We're talking deep, wide, burning epic hatred here.  

That mower is gone now -- and in its place, I present to you the Poulan Pro chainsaw.

I've spent the afternoon foolishly trying to replace the pull starter on the accursed spawn of Hell.  It looks simple enough.  Six parts.  A few screws.  I remember sitting down and thinking to myself, how hard can this be?

Well, little did I know that the engineers at Poulan (spelled 'we torture we kill hahahaha') spent the better part of the last two centuries refining the dark art of making simple repairs not only impossible but surprisingly dangerous.

Look, this shouldn't be such a big deal.  It's a pull starter.  A couple of springs.  A racheting wheel.  A pull cord.  But somebody at Poulan had to sit down and think really hard about a way to turn that into an operation that requires:

* Zero gravity
* A person with at least four limbs
* A tool which can extend itself through seven of the 14 known dimensions

And brother if you don't have those three items you are screwed.

The heart of this travesty is the main recoil spring.  And when I say spring, I'm speaking in the loosest possible terms.  Someone decided they could shave an twenty-eighth of a cent off manufacturing costs if they replaced the spring with an 18 foot length of narrow springy metal.

The sadistically cheerful instructions that came with the replacement parts advise you, the hapless installer, to 'rewind the main spring and replace it in the housing.'

I hear the serial killer from Saw saying that now.  Saying it with a smirk.  Because he knows there's no way you're ever going to get that murderous length of razor sharp steel back in any housing no matter how much type-matched blood you have on hand.

I made five attempts before deciding, and I quote, '@#$$#@  #$^%$^%& ^%&%^*&%^ #%^&%^&!"  I wound up with the hooked tip of the thing in my right eye, in my left ear, and even (I kid you not) poking up my shorts before pronouncing the erudite phrase above and leaving the cursed thing where it fell.

So keep it up, chainsaw.  There's a spot out in the field for you too, right beside the old Craftsman mower. I hear the rust creeps very slowly.  Very slowly indeed.    

And to my pals at Poulan -- stop making simple crap hard!  It's a chainsaw, not a freaking particle collider.  Act like you've built tools before, morons.

Time to find my sledge hammer.

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