It Wasn't Funny At The Time

Patricia M. Snell

© Copyright 2020 by Patricia M. Snell

Photo of an injured toe.

My husband never tires of teasing me about the time I ran over him with the lawn mower. He admits he should have given me a quick lesson in how to steer and how to stop.

A few years ago my husband bought a zero turn riding lawn mower. It’s one of those mowers that can turn on a dime. It has handles instead of a steering wheel. Bob, my husband, was born knowing how to drive it. On the maiden run of the zero turn, Bob hopped on the seat and away he went. He instinctively knew how to drive it. I cannot relate to that. I am the quintessential woman driver.  I do not feel comfortable behind the wheel, or handles, of anything. The mower I use is a small push mower that is powered only by my ability to push it. I mow the small areas around the house, and Bob mows the large areas with his zero turn. This mowing arrangement works for Bob and me. 

About a year and a half ago, a mowing mishap proved that the mowing arrangement is best left alone. Bob got stuck as he attempted to cross the shallow ditch that runs along the side of our property. He called me over to the zero turn in the ditch. I could see his predicament. I wondered how I could help. Without a word of driving instruction, Bob said, “ Hop on the seat. You drive. I’ll push.” It sounded simple. In a flash, I was on the seat, my hands were on the handles, and there was no turning back. Bob pushed me across the ditch and up onto the road. 

We live at the end of a country road. There is no traffic and there are no close neighbors. No one saw me zig-zagging out of control down the road. No one saw Bob chasing after me. Why didn’t I anticipate this problem? How do I control this runaway ride? What do these handles do? Where are the brakes? Did I assume the mower would automatically stop when I got on the road?

It wasn’t funny at the time, but looking back, it must have looked like we invented a game of lawn mower tag. The wife drives erratically down the road while her husband chases her. Who knows what a retired couple in the country thinks up to amuse themselves? In our game of tag, I was unfortunately winning. I had a head start. But Bob was catching up to me. In a valiant effort to help me, Bob lunged and caught a handle. The mower turned on him. He lost his balance and fell on his back. The mower ran over his feet and up his legs. It stopped above his knees when I finally came to my senses and turned off the key. 

Horror of horrors. What have I done? It was like a scene from a horror film. There should be bloody pieces of my husband flying from the mower. As these thoughts raced through my mind, I climbed down from the seat to discover what was left of my husband. Bob shouted at me to take action. “Lift the mower deck off me. The blades are disengaged.” Disengaging the blades was the only smart thing Bob did before I got on the mower seat.

I’ve heard stories of people who acquire super human strength in emergencies. I was not one of those people. I could not lift the mower deck off of my husband. Bob was left to his own devices to extract himself from under the mower. He had a little wiggle room. Inch by painful inch, he pried himself free. As he sat on the road, we looked over his legs and feet. There was no obvious harm done. His jeans and work boots protected him. Some extra body padding also cushioned and protected Bob. Who knew those extra pounds would come in handy some day?

With his own super human strength and determination, Bob lifted himself up off the pavement, which isn’t easy for a 70-year-old man even on a good day. He had no choice. He had to get on his feet.  Someone had to drive the mower out of the middle of the road, and it certainly wasn’t going to be me. 

Lessons learned from spending time with a zero turn mower:

You can run over your husband and he will stay intact, expect his big toenail will turn many colors and eventually fall off. It takes many months to grow back.

When you run over your husband, get right back up in the saddle. Don’t give fear a chance to set up camp in your mind. 

If I ever dare to drive the zero turn again, I will need a Driver’s Ed class with a patient and understanding teacher - probably not my husband.

Bob should have known better than to put me in the driver’s seat of an unfamiliar vehicle. I am not Danica Patrick. Maybe Bob needs a class in common sense.

Bob suggests I buy some dumbbells and practice powerlifting so I can lift the mower deck. 

As a rule of thumb, read the owner’s manual before operating the machine. The manual says, “Never allow children or untrained people to operate the machine.”

The owner’s manual needs a chapter about the dangers of assuming your spouse can operate the zero turn on her first time out of the gate.

Don’t mess with the mowing arrangement.

Mow the ditch with the push mower.

Last, but certainly not least, we learned the importance of finding humor in the difficulties of life. The mower mishap wasn’t funny at the time, but now we look back and laugh about the time I won the game of lawn mower tag.

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