Lee Pitts: Hear It Roar
My environmentalist neighbor has a real dilemma on his hands. He spent a wad of money covering the roof on his house with solar panels to generate enough electricity to power his house, lower his electric bill and advertise to his green buddies that he’s selling power back to the detestable electric utility company. Instead of paying a bill every month he actually expected to get money back from the bankrupt power company that provides our power. That was the theory anyway. Needless to say, it’s not working out exactly as planned.
The problem is that since purchasing the house 20 years ago he’s planted milkweed for the Monarch butterflies, ripped out his lawn to save water, removed all fences so the invading hordes of deer would have free roaming and planted a row of pine trees for nesting birds. I think he was trying to win the “Big Greeny Of The Year Award.” The problem is the row of trees he planted have grown so tall they’re now covering up his solar panels so he’s not even generating enough power to heat his hot tub, let alone get a hot check from the power company every month.
My neighbor is a new age wing nut and limousine liberal with a few sunflower seeds missing from his trail mix, if you get my drift. I hardly ever see him outside and when I do I must hide my eyes because he’s kind of a nudist who goes around wearing nothing but a goofy smile and his underwear. To prevent encounters with the guy I told him that I’d already killed 5 rattlesnakes this year and he didn’t come out of his house for three months.
We’re not exactly bosom buddies so I was surprised when I got a call from him wanting to know if I had a chain saw and if he could borrow it. I was hesitant to do so because the last time I loaned him my grinder and a cutting disk he nearly cut his hand off. He’s not exactly what you’d call a tool guy or an outdoorsman.
My neighbor was very upset and really didn’t want to cut his trees down, “thereby creating an imbalance in the natural ecology of our community.” He’d even checked into hiring an arborist to move the trees but that was cost prohibitive so he decided to cut them down himself. I asked him why he didn’t just hire a tree company but he said they were his trees and he must do it himself. He didn’t want some stranger “putting them down.” He talked as if he was euthanizing an old dog or favorite horse. Putting them down himself was the only honorable thing to do.
He later admitted that he’d seen how tree companies cut trees and he didn’t like the way they let branches fall to the ground and “get hurt.” So he got the needed permits from the county (it costs $200 per tree, seriously) and asked if he could borrow my chainsaw. I told him I was going to be gone but I’d leave it behind my front gate and he could just come and get it.
In hindsight I should have left him the operator’s manual also because a couple days later he called and said my saw wasn’t working well and he’d only been able to cut off a couple limbs with it. I figured something must be wrong with the carburetor as it was always conking out. It could have also been old fuel or a bad spark plug. So I told him to leave it behind my gate and I’d give it a good tune up and leave it back behind the gate the next day.
Two days later my neighbor called and said the saw wasn’t working any better. I was puzzled by this because it was working just fine for me, so I told him that I was in my shop so he should bring it back and we’d see what the problem was.
So my neighbor shows up, thankfully not in his underwear, and I put the saw on the ground, pumped some gas into the carburetor and pulled on the cord the requisite ten times and, “Vroom, vroom,” it roared to life.
My neighbor jumped back a few feet and said, “What’s that noise?”