I am the kiss of death for anything mechanical. Put in in my hands and if it’s got moving parts I’ll break it. Tonight I was the grim reaper, ironically enough, for the lawn-tractor. The poor thing now sits in grass high above its fenders, waiting for Sears to come out here and resurrect it.
I’m not the family mower, that’s Mike’s job, and since he had to be away I thought I would give it a shot. With all the rain the grass has gotten out of hand, the ground is soft, and I’ve been waiting for a break in the weather to get out there and cut grass. The first thing I did was open up the barn doors and find the tractor wrapped like a fat caterpillar by a colony of huge active spiders. I didn’t fancy getting on board and being crawled on by panicky arachnids while driving a whirling set of blades, so a lot of time was spent with a stick, peering under crevices, squashing icky things and clearing away webbing before I’d even get in the seat.
Then it wouldn’t start. I guessed the battery was dead. This was confirmed by Mike via email, who sent me detailed instructions on how to recharge the battery. I took the written checklist with me out to the barn and went through it step by step. You can’t be too cautious when handling positive and negative terminals. God forbid I should blow up the battery. This is how worried I was about my special talent for destruction.
You know you’re bad at this when the instructions for starting the machine, clearly printed on the mower, tell you to open up the throttle, and you have to go back to the house to find the owner’s manual to find out what a throttle is. Unfortunately, we have lost the English version and the Spanish version was unhelpful for me, personally. After a lot of deliberation I finally just turned the key in the ignition- whatever a throttle is, I would have to operate without one. The motor turned over, sputtered, emitted blue smoke, roared, sputtered, smoked some more, roared some more. I put it into reverse and carefully backed out of the barn. It died once and restarted, and I drove it in first gear triumphantly up the path toward the front lawn. Feeling like a lawn-care pro now that I had the upper hand, I pulled out the red knob to start the blade. There was a loud and scary snap, and the engine died on the spot. A belt had broken the instant I’d engaged the blade. My magic touch had struck again. The grass is safe for another week.