My house is situated on a public park. A hedge forms the boundary between my property and the park- a very healthy, thriving hedge. My next door neighbor had always loaned me a battery powered hedge trimmer to keep the hedges in check. I have never been very domestic, so it was fairly amazing that he was able to teach me how to use the tool to tame the bushes. He was known to occasionally do some of my pruning himself.
Last summer my neighbor died. He was like a father to me, and now that he's gone the neighborhood is a lot less appealing to me. It's hollow and lifeless without my energetic, ever-present, talkative neighbor. His widow still owns the house, but she's been in Florida since September. Before she left, I asked to buy her husband's hedge trimmers. She said no- she thought she might need them. (I have never seen her lift a finger outdoors. She hires a maintenance crew to do her yardwork now that her husband is gone.) I believe that her late husband would have wanted me to have his hedge trimmers, but I had to accept the rejection and move on.
Moving on meant first consulting with online hedge trimmer reviews. I found a Black and Decker tool with high ratings which happened to be 50% off at amazon.com. It arrived 2 days later.
OK. What I sought was a hedge trimmer. What I got was a veritable chain saw. (That could explain why even at 50% off, it was still pricier than I expected.) I was immediately scared of it. This machine was nothing like my neighbor's very tame and manageable tool.
I laid the machine down in the living room and cowered. It took me 2 solid days to muster the courage to even read the owner's manual. When I did, I was horrified. I was warned over and over that the use of my new machine was likely to result in my death unless I followed very specific instructions, and even then I was in grave danger. The battery alone could kill me, which was not surprising considering its appearance:
Why, my neighbor's tool's battery was never even exposed! His entire hedge trimmer fit onto a charging base, and the killer battery was never even visible! WHAT had I gotten myself into?!
The next day I decided that enough was enough. How many people had died from trimming hedges? (I actually searched for the statistics.) I dressed in long pants, long sleeves, gloves, goggles, face mask and the "properly stable footwear" which the owner's manual had insisted upon, and boldly marched into my driveway with The Machine.
By this time I had memorized the 66-page owner's manual. I knew exactly how to start it. It didn't start. I tried again. And again. Nothing. This is the tool which Consumer Reports had recommended, and it wouldn't start. (Yes, I had inserted the Killer Battery, after charging it for 11 hours.)
Truth be known, I was relieved. I was unlikely to be killed by a hedge trimmer/chain saw which would not turn on! Maybe my neighbor was watching over me.....
I tend to be persistent, even when failure works to my advantage. I persisted, and eventually discovered that I had not been pressing hard enough on the "on" switch prior to pressing on the appropriately named "trigger."
When The Machine finally came to life in my hands, I nearly dropped it! The rave reviews had never mentioned how heavy The Machine was, especially for lifting up in the air to cut the 5-6 feet tall hedges I was dealing with!
I had prepared the bushes by attaching a string to ensure straight, even cutting. (This tip was straight out of the 66-page owner's manual.)
Although the experience was indeed traumatic, my hedges are now manicured. This was the view last night as I stood in the park, looking toward my house:
And I lived to tell the tale.