The Case of the Cursed Lawn Tractor

Have you ever felt as though an inanimate object was cursed?  Or jinxed?  Like something always goes wrong with that thing?

(c) AdobeStock Photo

(c) AdobeStock Photo

That’s how I feel about my lawn tractor.

It looked so innocent and shiny in the store.  And big and strong – like it would hold up to the wear and tear of grass and leaf mowing.  But for some reason it hasn’t worked out that way.

It’s supposed to make life easier.  Or at least the job of lawn maintenance easier.  But it feels like it’s broken more often than it’s working.  As though it’s mocking me every time I walk past it in the garage to get into my car.  Here’s a partial list of what’s gone wrong.

  1. The turbo unit gets clogged and won’t send the leaves up the chute into the bags. This happens a lot, especially if the leaves are the least bit damp.
  2. The belt that turns the turbo unit breaks. Last fall 3 of them broke, and they’re expensive.  I practically had to take out a mortgage just to pay for the belt replacement.
  3. The battery runs out of juice even in the middle of the summer, and the mower won’t start.

The latest disaster happened last week.  I was clearing leaves when I heard a loud squealing noise coming from the turbo unit.  The next thing I knew, the unit had a tiny hole.  Now it’s important to note that the unit’s proper function depends on a fan and a closed environment.  This ensures that the only way out is through the tube and into the bags.  The hole gave the grass another escape route.  Now the grass was shooting out the hole….and making it bigger.

After maybe 10 minutes, the small hole had turned into a gaping gash about 5 inches long.  And more than grass was shooting out.  Small rocks and acorns shot directly at my legs.  Do you know how fast they shoot out of a turbo unit?  Fast enough to create welts and bruises on my legs.

All I could think was, “What next?!?!”  I had been SO careful.  I picked up all the larger sticks, went super-slow where the leaves were deep.  I had taken what I thought were all the right precautions to prevent further damage.  And still something broke.  Definitely feeling jinxed.

I had to make a decision about what to do.  Call the repair number and have them come and get it, or let it go until the winter?  The last time I had them pick it up, it took more than 2 weeks to get it back.  I really can’t afford that with the leaves coming down at the rate they are.  I’ll be buried in no time.  Yet, with this hole I could end up with a disfigured leg in pretty short order.  What to do?

Duct tape to the rescue.  It’s pretty much the first thing I try, other than Super Glue or WD-40.  My friend Dave suggested how to do the taping to make it as strong as possible and have at least a shot at getting it to stay.  So I taped the gash following his advice.

Did it work?  Sort of.  I didn’t spread the tape wide enough on the left side of the gash, so had to fix that.  Then it wasn’t thick enough right in the middle, and I had to add extra layers.  Right now I used so much tape that I could probably wrap the duct tape around the circumference of the earth.  But at least it’s holding…for now.  And I can keep on top of the mowing…for now.

(c) Kathleen Thompson

(c) Kathleen Thompson

Now this makes for a rather funny story, especially as you picture me dodging flying missiles and riding around on my duct-taped lawn tractor in a neighborhood of John Deeres where I swear the guys wash the thing after each use.  But seriously, at this point I’m so predisposed to believe that each encounter with this tractor will be a disaster, that I wonder if I’m actually subconsciously making it happen.  You know how you’ve heard “What you focus on increases?”  I wonder if that’s happening in this case.  That I’m jinxing my own lawn equipment.

It’s worth considering.  It’s also a good lesson in what it feels like to anticipate disaster, and how unhelpful that actually is.  Instead of enjoying my time outside, every minute I’m wondering when something awful is going to happen.  And then when it does, I say to myself, “See?!  I told you it was a piece of junk!”  Hmmmm…..  I wonder if I ever do that anywhere else?  I wonder if you do too?

Have you had a similar experience with something you use a lot?  How have you handled it?  I’d love to hear your story and advice.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Kathleen, we must own the same lawn tractor! So many headaches, so much grass. Argh. I salute your pluck. And sense of humor. And the questions arising and how you’re grappling with them. My Eeyore-esque default is to anticipate disaster, though I’ve made some headway on this, over the years. (she laughs ruefully) And while I’m chuckling in recognition, I can’t help think of Tim Allen with his souped-up “Home Improvement” lawn tractor. rrrrrrRRRRRRRrrr

    • LOL! I’m totally picturing Tim Taylor (aka Tim Allen) bombing around the neighborhood. Good luck with yours, Laurie. Here’s hoping they get through another year.