A few years ago, my husband gave me a chainsaw for my birthday. I was thrilled. Truthfully. I really was thrilled. I love power tools. Electric drills, table saws, grinders, even sanders. My greatest regret in changing my college major from engineering to sports medicine is that I did it the semester before we got to learn how to weld.
Unfortunately, my husband has learned that you can give a woman a chain saw, but you can’t make her sharpen it. Or tighten the chain. Which is why, after an hour of whacking down dead tree limbs last Saturday, the chain came off my favorite saw.
I guess I should have done something when I noticed it was sagging. Instead, I did what I always do when I experience a power tool malfunction. I kept going as long as it would go. When it did quit, I sort of tucked the chain back into place, then I put the saw back on the shelf for my husband to fix the next time he needed to use it. Hmm. Maybe that explains why it always takes him so darn long to get started on home improvements around here. And why he's always so dang grouchy about it.
The improvement part of home improvement definitely isn’t my thing. I prefer demolition. Twice in our marriage my husband has had reason to use the phrase, “Honey, where did the wall go?” The other time it was the deck that went missing. I don’t know why he got so excited. Who needs a deck in South Dakota, where sprawling out in a lounge chair is the equivalent of ringing the mosquito dinner bell?
To do demolition right, you have to break out the serious equipment. Tractors and bulldozers and backhoes are just extra large power tools. I’d love to test drive one of those monster cranes with the wrecking ball on the end. Which is probably why my husband speeds up as we pass construction sites.
Honey, where did the barn go?
Even a wrecking ball couldn’t match the power tool nirvana my husband encountered when he was fresh out of high school, employed by a construction company that was building a railroad bed across one of the more desolate stretches of eastern Wyoming. We’re talking the ultimate in demolition. The big Kahuna.
Keep in mind that this was a while back, before *OSHA became the only four letter word guaranteed to get your butt kicked on a construction site. Pre-Homeland Security, too. When no one thought twice about handing an eighteen year old a plunger connected to a series of blasting caps and saying, “Go ahead, give it a shove.” Of course, there was no certified demolitions expert on the crew. Do you know how much you have to pay those people?
When the bulldozers encountered an outcropping of rock, everyone would gather round, scratch their chins, and guestimate how many sticks of TNT it would take to bust ‘er loose. They’d drill a few holes in what they figured were strategic locations, hook up some fuses, place their charges, and string out the detonator wire to a safe distance. The process took some time, during which graders and trucks and loaders rumbled back and forth. Invariably, someone would drive a bulldozer over the wire and the steel tracks would cut right through. One of the crew would hustle out and splice it back together. After a while, the detonator wire began to look like a knotted, frayed shoestring. It also got shorter.
The day came when the heavy equipment encountered an especially stubborn layer of rock. The first blast barely made a dent. More holes were drilled, and a larger payload inserted. The crew backed away, to the end of the detonator wire, which reached right to the front of the nearest pick-up. The countdown commenced.
Four… three…two…one… Kabloom!
Huge chunks of rock sprayed into the air. Arced in glorious slow motion through the blue Wyoming sky. And began to descend. Which was when they realized that they had overestimated the amount of dynamite needed. And spliced that wire a few too many times.
When the dust finally cleared, they crawled out from under the pick-up. The whole crew stood around, contemplating the smashed windshield and the newly acquired, five hundred pound granite hood ornament. Finally, someone said, “I suppose we’ll have to tell the boss about this.”
I guess it was kinda big to park on a shelf somewhere and hope they weren’t around the next time he needed it.
*Occupational Safety and Health Administration, otherwise known as the guys who stop by and hand out fines.