Psychology of a Leaf-Blower Owner


This weekend Nathan and I decided to make some progress with the garden plot.  It’s quite large – 20 feet by 65 feet of dark, rich soil.   I grew up farming.  I could not begin to estimate the number of hours I have spent weeding, planting, transplanting, and staking gardens.  After about two hours of weeding by hand, Nathan asked, “This is awful.  What do you call this?”   My reply included wicked laughter, then a roll of the eyes.  “This is called weeding, Nathan.  Get used to it.”

To his credit.  It was treacherous weeding.  I think to spite us, the previous tenants planted an invasive species of vine-moss.  I could tell the job was going to take more time than either of us had, if we didn’t get some help.  So, we rented a rototiller-to which Nathan exclaimed, “THIS I can get behind!”

Within three hours our work was done.

To celebrate, we went to Walmart.  What?  You don’t go there to celebrate victories?  OK, the truth is, they have cheap seeds.  And I know, seed quality matters-but I’m not planting an armageddon garden here.  I don’t need my plot to produce enough food to feed the two of us for the next 11 months.  Although, Nathan and I did discuss what would be best in such a garden.  Lots of beans, potatoes, carrots and onions. (a tip for you doomsdayers out there)

Hold on a little longer..I haven’t even gotten to the good stuff yet.  This story gets so much better.  In Walmart, we surpassed the spending threshold of 20 dollars.  It is an arbitrary threshold which Walmart commemorates by putting your name in a jar to win a leaf blower.  People who use leaf blowers hold a very special place in my heart.  It’s the place where I put things so foolish, that I can’t bare to hate them.  I rolled my eyes at the cashier as Nathan filled out his entry ticket.  I whispered to him conspiratorially, “Oh no.  Not a leaf blower.  Then we’ll be like every other fool trying to blow leaves on a windy day.  I can’t be seen doing that.”

The cashier laughed.  I wasn’t trying to butter him up.  I really wasn’t.

We went home, planted some seedlings in a miniature indoor greenhouse, and sat down to enjoy a quiet evening in.  Nathan received a phone call.  Walmart was trying to track down a man with his name, to award him a brand new leaf blower.  He got off the phone with the biggest grin I have ever seen on his face.  I shook my head in disbelief.  “No.  No.  Impossible.  We entered the drawing less than three hours ago.  Really?”

He spun me around and began pushing me towards the door.  “We’re going to get my new leaf blower!  Get in the car!”

On the fifteen minute drive, our conversation went like this:

Nathan:  “Do you think I’ll have to give an acceptance speech?  I always get nervous before award ceremonies.”

Me:  “Most likely.  These things are a big deal.  Do you think I should call Kiro 7 News..or will Walmart take care of that?”

Nathan:  “I’ve never won anything in my life…that didn’t require skill.”

Me:  “This is a big day for you.  How many people do you think were in the drawing?  I’m thinking probably a million.  Couple hundred thousand at the minimum.”

Nathan:  “I’d like to thank my first grade teacher, for helping me with my numbers and letters.  Without her, I would have never been able to enter the drawing.”

Me:  “Oh no!  I forgot our camera.”

Nathan:  “I’d also like to thank my lucky stars.”

Me:  “You’re going to knock their socks off.”

When we arrived at our local Walmart, Nathan asked if he should park in the front, or the back.  He didn’t know where the stage was located.  Then, he realized what was happening.  He gets a little social anxiety.  If I hadn’t been around, he would have been cool as a cucumber; he would have calmly walked in, asked for his prize, and walked out.  His anxiety was the result of knowing that there was a very good chance that I was going to cause a scene of some kind.

Nathan:  “Ok.  This little game has been fun….but, you’re not going to do anything weird are you?”

Me:  “Weird?  Let’s do this!”

We decided on the back entrance, where Nathan hoped I would have minimal exposure to other shoppers, and employees.  A nice woman approached us.  When she found out that Nathan was the winner, she brought us to the back customer service desk and grabbed the prize blower.

Me:  “This is a modest award ceremony.  He’s been practicing remarks for his acceptance speech.”

Nathan: Inward groan.

Woman:  “Well, maybe he can give it in the car on the way home, while holding the blower.”

Me:  “How many people were in this contest?  Couple thousand? ”

Woman:  Points to a jar above the counter with two other tickets in it.  Two.  “No, just a couple.”

It hit me.  Leaf blowers are so ridiculous that they have to be given away.  No one buys these things.  When someone wins one, they feel obligated to use it.  It would be wasteful not to.

On our way out of the store, the security alarm started wailing.  We panicked and ran to the car.  Who knows, maybe Walmart has some kind of quota for catching thieves.  It could have been an elaborate we thought it best to flee the scene.

On the drive home we were quiet for a long time.

Nathan broke the silence,  “Remember rakes?  What were those for?”


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