Chainsaw Etiquette

For the rookie woodchoppers among us, let’s begin by defining the two types of chainsaws: Type 1 — Those that start; Type 2 — Those that don’t. Prior to my owning and operating my own chainsaw, I employed a local White Mountain contractor to remove a couple of humongous, dying oak trees alongside the driveway. Their decaying branches had begun to break off on occasion, and the notion of being squashed by a fateful, falling chunk of wood as I returned home with the week’s supply of dog cookies was more comic futility than I could contemplate. I could think of lots of ways to expire, but mashed and/or impaled in my automobile from on high was not my first choice. So, I hired Crazy Ed The Handy Guy (in his case, not mutually exclusive qualities) to cut ‘em down. He did. He cut them perfectly. He dropped them exactly where I asked. He also spent one-quarter of the half-day he was here trying to start his chainsaw. You must accept this right up front. It doesn’t matter whether you purchase Type One or Type Two, you’ll get the latter. Chainsaw-makers install some kind of retardant flywheel or hesitation gasket in their product, because no real man could or should cut down two trees without pulling his starter cord a minimum of 346 times. Per tree. It’s a timber crazy-handy guy thing. The Five Woodcutter Rules: 1. Don’t maim or kill yourself. Be mindful, in your first attempts at tree felling, that you don’t become a statistical “Two-Stumper.” One on the tree, and one on the knee. Hey, we’re not talking dehydrating vegetables and catching a pinky in a Ron Popeil spin-drying centrifuge —- this thing can ruin your day. To this end, I was given a pair of Kevlar lumberjack chaps by my housemate, made specifically to ward off the Two-Stumper Syndrome. She didn’t relish the idea of seeing me returning from the woods with a branch-crutch, and carrying my left leg in my right hand. 2. Wear protective gear. Before embarking on your Bunyanesque crusade, put on a helmet, steel-toed boots, leg protectors, ear mufflers, goggles, chain-mail gloves and a leather choke collar. Variations are allowed, but you get the idea. You need to guard against becoming the world’s first human jigsaw puzzle, in dire need of an inner tube tourniquet and an icepack the size of your refrigerator. 3. Never drop your house on your spouse. Recently in a nearby village, some hapless woodsman wannabe thought that because he was a guy, and could pull his starter cord 347 times, he knew all there was to know about tree-falling. Despite his wife’s pleas to desist, he attempted to drop his humongous, dying oak tree between driveway and house. Yep. He cut it perfectly wrong, and the tree, according to his specifications, fell perfectly right, neatly cleaving his abode into a symbolic, if not permanent, His & Her towel rack. His wife survived. His marriage didn’t. 4. Unless and until you reach the expertise of Crazy Ed The Handy Guy, if you encounter a tree with numbered lettering on its trunk, and power and telephone lines in its branches, you should probably leave it. 5. Lastly, never, as a practical joke on your sleeping spouse, don a hockey mask and bib overalls, burst into the bedroom brandishing your saw, and half-yank the starter cord in a mock pre-massacre mode. It will be the only time it will ever start on the first attempt. Even Paul Bunyan couldn’t pull you limb from limb from the ol’ ball & chainsaw marital ruins. Cutting to the chase ... meet you in the woods. NH B. Elwin Sherman has been writing humor on the Internet since 1995. His new book is “Toolkit in Paradise: A Self-helpless Guide to a Decade of American Wit and Wisdom,”
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