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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

So I recently learned how to use a chainsaw. Who says you can’t learn new things as an adult?

I had to do it as an adult. This isn’t something they taught me in school. Though I guess other people go to different schools, so I don’t know what they learn. There might be some school somewhere where they give a bunch of teenage boys chainsaws. Day One:

“What did you do to your desk?”

“Oops.”

“I haven’t even finished giving out the chainsaws!”

You’d think, “It’s a chainsaw. How much is there to learn? Just don’t juggle them.” Ours plugs in anyway, so it would be hard to juggle.

My wife is the one who bought it. It was her idea. She bought it because the bushes in front of our house have gotten too big, and we can’t see out the window anymore, and the branches are too thick to just trim.

So we discussed possibly cutting down the bushes and starting over, and the next thing I know, my wife came home with a chainsaw that is literally the scariest thing we have in our house.

I’m thinking of getting one for fleishigs.

She got the kind with a cord, so we can cut whatever we want that is six inches from an outlet. It’s a safety feature. Another safety feature is that you can never accidentally cut the cord, because it’s six inches long. At best, you can cut the extension cord.

Sure, we could have gotten a cordless saw, but we figured that corded is fine, because

  1. 1. it’s not like we’re running with it,
  2. 2. there’s no way we’re showing up at the gas station with a chainsaw, and
  3. 3. we keep losing our cordless phones.

There are actually a lot of safety features on this thing. I was initially scared to get a chainsaw, what with all the kids running around, but once we got one, I saw that they’re actually very safe. In fact, in the 23-page instruction manual, 16 pages are devoted to safety alone. That’s how safe they are. There are hand guards and sneeze guards and dead man’s switches, rachmanah litzlan, and even a little plastic sheath for the blade that you know will not do a thing if you turn it on by accident.

And in fact, the first thing my wife said when we opened it was that we both had to read the instructions. She was lucky that I hadn’t already cut the instructions in half.

Who has time to sit around and read the manual? I want to get out and cut stuff.

“What kinds of stuff?”

“Fine, I’ll read the manual.”

Because that’s one difference between men and women when it comes to these things. My wife bought the chainsaw to cut something very specific, but once I was holding it, I was kind of like one of those guys who gets a new screwdriver and then walks around the entire house looking for things to tighten. My plan was to cut a garbage can in half. And maybe make a Tisha B’Av chair.

But then I realized that the last thing I wanted to do was try to cut something that would ruin the chain before we even got to cutting bushes. So I found the time to read the instructions. I ended up reading them in the waiting room of my kids’ dentist’s office, because who knew how long I was going to be there. Like the dentist’s office isn’t scary enough for these kids, there’s also a psycho reading a chainsaw manual.

But there’s also something to be said for learning by doing, although I don’t know if that statement was created for chainsaws. And what I learned by doing is that despite all the safety precautions, a chainsaw is a very scary device, and nothing can stand in its way except bushes. I say this because the bushes I was cutting kept making the chain get stuck. So we’d spend about 10 seconds cutting and then 10 minutes pulling branches out of the chain. But to be fair, what we cut in 10 seconds would have taken us 10 minutes with the garden shears. So it evened out.

Another thing that I learned by doing (and this was not in the manual) is that because of the placement of the handles, it’s actually a righty’s chainsaw. Which doesn’t mean that I (as a lefty) can’t use it; it just means that I can’t use it accurately. But who cares? We’re getting rid of the whole set of bushes, right?

That’s another difference between men and women: When my wife used the saw that first time, she was delicately shaping the bush smaller and smaller. When I did it, I basically hacked large chunks off, trying to get through to the trunk.

“What are you doing? We decided we’re not cutting it down all the way!” she said, when I was done my turn.

“Oh,” I said. “I didn’t hear you over the chainsaw.”

So right now, thanks to our hacking, the bushes look like they just got a haircut for the Three Weeks.

For now, we’ve been keeping the chainsaw near our front door, I guess in case the bushes grow really big all of a sudden, seeking revenge. Though maybe we should keep it there all the time, for protection. You know how there’s all this controversy about whether you should have a gun in your house? I say that you should have a chainsaw. Keep it next to your bed. If someone breaks into your house and he hears you firing up a chainsaw, he is not coming back.

“Hey, where are you going! The chainsaw’s corded!”

By Mordechai Schmutter


Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He also has six books out and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected]