I decided to splurge a couple weeks ago and buy myself a battery-operated lawnmower. I probably should have been looking for a snowblower instead, especially this late in the mowing season, but the mower was sold out all summer, so this was my only chance to get one.
I already had a battery-operated mower, but it was so heavy, it was like pushing a cow on wheels. I found out why when my uncle took it home with him to overhaul it a few months ago.
“Did you know that your lawnmower has three batteries in it?” he asked when he brought it back. “They’re the kind they use in snowmobiles.”
That probably would explain why every time I used it, it left ruts in the lawn that looked like army trenches.
When the store called me last week to tell me my new mower had arrived and I could pick it up at any time, I flew over there. I envisioned it all nicely assembled with the battery charged and ready to go.
Boy, what a dreamer.
The mower came in a big box...and in pieces. I got home, opened up the hatchback of my car and tried to slide out the box. The only thing I felt slide was my sacroiliac. That’s when I noticed the shipping weight on the box said 110 pounds.
I ran into the house and asked my husband if he could help me get the box out of the car.
“Is it heavy?” he wanted to know.
I was afraid he’d ask me that. “Um, a little over 100 pounds.”
“A hundred pounds!” he let out a low whistle. “You know I’ve been having a lot of pain in my (insert any body part here). So I don’t know if I can be much help.”
Still, he tried, and together, grunting in harmony, we managed to get the huge box out of the car. Then he immediately went back into the house to lie down and moan in various octaves for the rest of the afternoon.
I, on the other hand, decided to assemble the mower. I’d never assembled a mower before, but as long as the directions had illustrations, which they did, I was pretty sure I could wing it.
I slid the handle into the appropriate slots on the mower and lined up the holes. I then was supposed to secure them in place with two orange plastic screw-in thingies that looked like butterflies. I screwed in the first one with no problem. I screwed in the second one and it was crooked, which made the handle lopsided. So I unscrewed it and tried it again. Still crooked. So I left it that way. My left hip has always been higher than my right one anyway, so I figured the lopsided handle probably would work in my favor.
Then I had to lift the battery, which looked like a car battery with a handle and a bunch of lights on it, and slide it into the special compartment on the mower. I grabbed the handle and tried to hoist the battery into its proper place. It felt as if someone had nailed it to the garage floor. That’s because, unbeknownst to me at the time, it weighed over 35 pounds. When I tried a second time to lift it, my back made noises that sounded like corn popping.
The battery had to be charged for 14 hours, according to the instructions. So I let it charge overnight. The next day, I was ready to try out my new mower.
Using it was a dream. It was easy to push and it cut through the grass (a.k.a. weeds and hay) like a hot knife through butter. I was moving right along until about square foot number 5,000 of the 8,000 square feet of lawn in our yard. That’s when the battery decided to cough and die.
That’s also when I understood what all of the lights on the battery meant. The little green ones had changed to yellow and then to red before the mower’s premature death.
I grabbed the instruction booklet. It said the battery was good for about an hour and 15 minutes before it had to be recharged. I’d been mowing for an hour and 12.
“I need at least a two-hour battery,” I whined to husband when I came back into the house. “The mower died when I still had 45 minutes of mowing left to go!”
“Maybe you should try running when you mow,” he said. “You might gain some extra time that way.”
I frowned at him. “Have you ever tried running while pushing a 110-pound mower? You don’t see me wearing a cape and a big ‘S’ on my chest, do you?”
“Then buy a second battery and have it charged and ready. When the first one poops out, just pop in the second one and you’ll be good to go!”
The man actually had come up with a brilliant idea for a change. I rushed to the phone, called the store and asked if they could get me another battery for the mower. The guy asked for the mower’s model number, then said he’d check.
“Yep! We can get it for you,” he said when he returned to the phone. He paused for moment, then said, mostly to himself, “Wow!”
Call me a pessimist, but I was pretty sure his next words were going to cause me to need a defibrillator.
“It’s $175,” he said.
“But the whole mower cost only $299!” I said.
“Well, then maybe you’d be better off just buying another mower. At least you’ll always have a backup handy.”
I told him I’d have to think about it. And I did.
I came to the conclusion it would be cheaper to hire an Olympic track runner to train me how to move really, really fast when I mow.