I think that someone should make disposable lawnmowers. They could be made out of earth friendly materials, maybe recycled grass clippings even, and double as potting soil after use. Or, as another possible solution, hardware stores could rent out thoroughly trained and very hungry goats.
Usually I lament how products nowadays aren’t built to last. I wax poetic about how I wish I hadn’t missed the age of solid manufacturing. For example, when my wife and I got married, we bought a used dryer that was older than either of us. It was so old that the company no longer had records of ever having made its kind. Sure that meant we could never find replacement parts, but we also didn’t need replacement parts. If our apartment building had collapsed while we were doing laundry, rescue workers would have found our dryer in the rubble, still happily drying. Then they could have handed fresh-scented warm clothes to the other people they rescued. Is there anything more comforting than fresh-scented warm clothes?
Our current dryer, on the other hand, is made of plastic, of the sort in which people bottle water, and not even fancy water. It can barely withstand its own efforts; I sometimes worry that our toddler will tear it apart as though it were tissue paper. If our house collapses while we’re doing laundry now, what will rescue workers give us? Certainly nothing that smells of flowers and has been guarded against static build-up.
However, when maintaining something becomes the sort of ordeal usually reserved for the punishment of villains in myths, the idea of enduring products becomes less attractive. Frankly, I’m a bit disappointed that we bought a lawnmower designed to last, because we robbed me of the joy of crushing it into a hundred pieces while weeping and tearing out my hair.
Ironically, it’s also not useful as a lawnmower.
As I mentioned previously, it died a little while ago. At first we thought its failure was an inconvenience, but one we could overcome. We had purchased the extended warranty, so we just needed to take the lawnmower for service. Unfortunately…. Well, unfortunately we needed to take it for service.
The first time we had to take our lawnmower to be serviced, the service center kept it for so long that our yard started menacing our neighbors. Then, in response to their frightened pleas, the police started menacing us. We’re not the kind of people who want to have criminal records, so we learned to view the service center with wary foreboding, the way small children view the dentist’s office or the way dentists probably view me.
Nevertheless, with goat rental not yet being a practical option, we drove our mower into town in the hopes that we’d be surprised. We should have specified that we wanted to be pleasantly surprised.
Unlike our earlier experience, the repair estimate didn’t seem so bad. The very nice worker who took our mower assured us that we would have it back in ten days. Sure ten days seemed like about eight too many, but eight too many is a lot better than twenty-eight too many. Only eight too many offered hope that we might avoid future police involvement. We tried to be optimistic. Then we returned ten days later and had all of our hopes crushed into a hundred pieces while we wept and tore out our hair. (Sensing a theme?)
We were told that it wouldn’t be ready for three more weeks. In our minds it registered this way: “We’ve arranged for you to get arrested. Your yard has won. Also, nobody here likes you, and that’s a very ugly shirt.”
I wasn’t prepared for any of that, so I had no idea what to do next. I’m not the sort of person who causes a fuss when a business disappoints me. I’m not even the sort of person who could cause a fuss. When the unexpected happens, I always respond the same way: I become confused and very still, as though hoping the world won’t notice me. (This reaction has never served me well, but more on that another time.)
However, I married a woman who excels at fuss. She’s sort of a fuss-savant. If fuss were a sport, she would be the undefeated world champion. People would travel the globe to take lessons from her. If fuss were a weapon, France would surrender every time she opened her mouth.
As soon as she had the chance, she started making calls. I couldn’t keep up with everything she did–she’s really that amazing–but I know it involved calling five separate numbers and talking to people in at least three different locations. It wouldn’t surprise me to find out that she had tracked down the president of the repair company. It wouldn’t surprise me to find out that he began weeping and pulling out his hair.
So it really didn’t surprise me when she told me that she had arranged for the company to have our mower ready for us the following day. She’s amazing. Of course, we both hoped that “ready” meant “fixed.” Apparently, the unfortunate folks at the repair center had been so intimidated by my wife that they forgot to do what she asked.
We went out to mow our lawn, but the lawnmower still didn’t work so we were defeated again. None of this would have happened if someone would rent a goat to us.