It’s hard to start writing a column about my chainsaw, but not as difficult as it is to start my chainsaw considering I was born and raised in New York City and never saw such a device until I was old enough to get into an R-rated movie.
When I moved to Indianapolis, I bought my first chainsaw and found it to be a very inefficient tool. I took it back to the dealer and I told him it took me hours to cut down one little limb. “Let me give it a try,” said the clerk, and then he pulled the cord.
“Geez, what’s that loud noise?” I asked him.
“Look, Mr. Wolfsie, I once saw you walk into a plate glass window on your morning TV segment. You are not the kind of person who should mess with power tools.”
I’m actually very good with power tools. I have never once had a problem starting my lawn mower. I did have one accident, though. I almost broke my nose when I tripped over the extension cord.
The chainsaw had been untouched in my garage for about 25 years. During the Midwest’s most recent storms, we were sitting in the living room and heard a crash. A fairly good-sized tree had blown down and grazed the side of the house. My wife heard the noise and immediately panicked.
“Relax,” I told her. “We’re OK.”
“No, we’re all in danger! This means you’re going to use that chainsaw.”
The next day, I cradled it gingerly in my arms. How am I supposed to start this thing? I wondered. There was a little plastic bubble that I vaguely remembered you have to push several times. Not sure why. I pulled the cord once … twice … 30 times. Suddenly, the motor began to hum. But the chain didn’t turn. I needed help.
I didn’t want to look stupid, so I checked online and armed myself with just enough information to be as dangerous as the chainsaw. I found a small nearby motor repair shop and drove over. An elderly gentleman asked if he could assist me.
“Yes, I think the clutch isn’t engaging and there’s a sprocket misalignment that’s making the chain stick,” I said, but I didn’t have a clue what I was talking about.
He picked up the saw, pushed a button and said, “The safety was on.”
I didn’t bat an eye.
“Thanks! What do I owe you?” I asked the man, who now looked vaguely familiar to me.
“Forget it,” he graciously offered. Then, as I started to leave, he added, “Be careful, Mr. Wolfsie. You’re about to walk into another plate glass window.”