Before reading on, be sure to read part 1.
The next thing on my list of yard chores that day was the trimming.
Previously that week, I had gone online and researched string-trimmers. I found that one of the best electric string trimmers was a fairly inexpensive model that I could get at my local Kmart. This unit had a rotating head that could swivel and perform both trimming and edging tasks.
It also had a nice wide 18″ cutting path. As most string trimmers go, it had the standard “bump ‘n feed” feature, as well as an auto-length trimmer, which was simply a small blade fastened onto the safety guard at 9″ from the base of the string. This blade would ensure that the string wouldn’t go beyond the safety guard and pose a potential threat to unsuspecting/unprotected ankles and shins; a neat little feature. The “string” is not actually string at all, but a spool of thin plastic polymer-based compound that is supposed to be stronger and more durable than string.
After the mishap and frustration in the back yard, I decided it would be better to just mow the front yard, sans-aeratoin shoes. I took the shoes off, threw them back in the shed where they landed with a satisfying “thump,” and took a quick break to get a glass of lemonade and calm down my temper. It was a hot afternoon and heat doesn’t help one’s composure.
After mowing the front yard and putting the mower away, I pulled out my new shiney string trimmer, along with my new 100’ extension cord.
I plugged in the cord and powered up the trimmer, checking first to make sure there was enough string to do the job adequately.
There was that moment of anticipation; the excitement of trying a new power tool for the first time… I pulled the trigger and the motor did nothing.
A bright yellow question mark popped up over my head as I inspected the trimmer, the cord and the outlet. Apparently, in the commotion of managing the cord, it had inadvertantly unplugged itself from the outlet.
I popped the cord back in, pulled the trigger and the motor whirred to life. It was a nice, high-pitch whine, similar to a high-performance speed-bike. I felt the glorious vibration in my hands as the tool shook with power. An involuntary grin crossed my face as I walked over to the side of the house where the grass was long and out of reach from the mower. As I lowered the trimmer to the long grass, the string-trimmer went to work and easily chopped the bothersome fringe grass to bits.
The aeration shoes had been a disaster, but this experience more than made up for that pathetic disappointment!
Then, suddenly, the trimmer’s motor-whine went high and the vibration stopped. The grass stopped being chopped to bits and the grin on my face disappeared as another glowing question mark appeared over my head.
Upon unplugging the trimmer and turning it over, I discovered that the problem was nothing more than the string having broken. I plugged the trimmer back in, pulled the trigger and bumped the bottom of the trimmer on the ground to feed out more string. …that’s what the instructions said to do, anyway.
Those of you with string trimmers know that this “bump ‘n feed” feature works with mixed results. Sometimes the string feeds, and sometimes it’s wound up around the spool so tightly that it won’t allow itself to feed properly.
I unplugged the device, pulled off the spool, refed the string through the hole, (a task much like trying to thread a needle) and I was back in business.
A few moments later, the string broke AGAIN. Again, bumping the trimmer on the ground would not initiate a feed. Unplug; pull off the spool; loosen the string; thread the feed; reattach.
2 or 3 feet down the line, the string broke again.
This process repeated itself 4 or 5 times across the back stretch of the house, a distance of only maybe 30-40 feet. I had only been trimming along the perimeter of the house and hadn’t even gotten to the chain-link fences yet.
When I DID get to the fences, the breakage happened more frequently and within shorter distances. By the 6th or 7th time, my patience was exhausted. I was holding the trimmer up over my head, ready to bring it smashing down on the pavement. The adult in me spoke up and said, “you’re an adult. You can handle this. Take it easy. Maybe you’re not pulling enough string out. Try one more time, but this time be sure to pull out plenty of string and see if it works any better for you.”
What I believed to be the adult in me turned out to be that little devil that pops up on your shoulder and tries to convince you to do foolish things that will result in horrible consequences.
I pulled out a good amount of string (roughly 12 inches or more), took a deep breath and pulled the trigger, full throttle.
Remember the little auto-length feature I’d mentioned? This feature makes sure that if I take out too much string, it’ll cut the string to a safe length. The problem with this feature is that it actually flings whatever peice of excess string that gets cut off direclty at the user.
Since I’d listened to the little voice tell me to pull extra string out, I now had a thin, 4 inch-long peice of polymer-based durable compound hurling at my left shin at roughly 550 feet per second.
Think of it sorta like being snapped at point-blank range with a rubber band that’s been pulled back about 3 feet. That ever happen to you? …say, in Jr. High during study hall, third seat from the left and three rows back?
…Uh… yeah, me neither, I was just askin’. Hypothetically, it would be enough to make you cry.
…or give you a 4-inch blood-blister on your left shin.
If the neighbors who had been out watching me since the aeration shoe-incident had fallen asleep, they were quickly woken-up by my howling as they nudged one another and asked, “ooh, what’d I miss?”
Needless to say, the tall grass by the house in the backyard was the only portion of the house that was trimmed that day. The front and sides would just have to wait until my morse-coded-dotted-and-slashed shins had time to heal.
This concludes part 2.