Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Chomosome I Wish I Had

I was mowing my lawn two days ago when my engine made a loud POP! and then promptly died. I wasn't optimistic, but I tried to start it again only to get a sputter-sputter-chug-chug-plop and that was that. Eli and I gave it a fretful stare and then I pushed it into the shade to cool off, hoping it was just somehow, mysteriously overheated.

About an hour later, I went back out and gave it another yank or two, to be met with the same sputter-sputter-chug-chug-plop, but no engine starting. My fretful stare became a more serious worry.

I spoke with Bear (ah yes, poor Bear) and he suggested I check the gas cap and maybe purchase a new one as they had experienced similar problems years ago and it was solved with a new gas cap. I thought $7 sounded like a great fix idea.

My dad suggested I check the spark plug. He wasn't sure beyond that or the air filter thingy, but the spark plug made a lot of sense now that he mentioned it, and so I headed out the the garage, thinking a $3 spark plug and/or a $7 gas cap was still far better options than a new $250 mower.

I pulled the mower out of the garage into the sunlight and took a look around for the spark plug. I immediately realized how right my dad must be. The spark plug MUST be the problem, because there WASN'T ONE. There was an empty hole and the little rubber cover was hanging loosely, but the actual spark plug itself was unexplicably AWOL.

I called Bear. (Ah, poor Bear) I verified with Bear that I must have had a spark plug to have started the mower when I started the back yard. While unlikely that a spark plug would just wiggle itself loose, it was most likely to be found somewhere in the yard. And so I searched. And I searched. But I didn't find a spark plug.

Bear had mentioned that in lieu of the old plug, I could take my model information to Tractor Supply and they could look it up for me. Which is what I did. Only the catalogs full of useful spark plug information didn't list anything for my make and model in combination with the horsepower mine proclaimed to have. The saleswoman suggested I return home and find the actual model number on the deck of the mower.

Running out of time before I had to be elsewhere, I wrote down the model number, but wasn't able to return to Tractor Supply until this morning. A new (and remarkably good looking) man tried to answer my question, but he came upon the same information and nothing more. We google'd it, we looked in several parts catalogs, but none listed my make, model and horsepower together. He asked me several times what color my mower was and if the plug was on the front or the side, and I became aware that he didn't believe the information I was providing. He suggested that the model number on the deck is not necessarily the same for the engine, as this particular company likes to just confuse people by providing two different things. I told him I lived just up the road and I would go home and find the OTHER number that he apparently needed.

Flash met me at the door when I returned home and asked if he could help in anyway (I know, I nearly fell over, too). I explained the problem, and I began taking pictures of my mower and the lack of another model number to take back to hottie at Tractor Supply (who, by the way, I am certain was as impressed with sweaty, gross, pony-tailed, make-up-less, Saturday morning mess, me) I asked if Flash would walk the back yard and see if he could find the missing old plug that I wasn't able to locate.

Armed with photographic evidence, I headed back to Tractor Supply. As I was about to walk in the doors, I had a text message from Flash saying he found the old plug and he provided me with the serial number on it.

I found hottie and shared the triumphant news. He located the right part for me and even looked it up in the catalog to see what sort of engine that part is said to go with (and still wasn't the one I have). I thanked him profusely and returned home to install a $3 spark plug and immediately start up my mower.

I don't know how men just know these things. I don't know how they can just fix things with such little to-do as they do. It must have something to do with that stinkin' Y chromosome. With my two X's, I feel completely helpless when it comes to some mechanical malfunction. I just stare at it and I know it has me beat before I can even pretend to put up a fight. I am in no small part, so grateful to Bear and my dad for their little words of wisdom, without which I would have a mower in a repair shop for $90, or would be contemplating the purchase of an entirely new one, all for want of a missing spark plug.

It reminds me of something a friend said in college when the dorm vacuum stopped sucking things up. "Did you check to see if the bag was full?" I asked.

"Bag? What bag? I didn't know these things had bags? Wow, look at that, it is full! Thank goodness you were here. I'd never know to check the bag. I would have just had to throw the vacuum away and buy a whole new one."

The mower may have outwitted me this time, but let the record stand, it will not fool me so quickly the next time. Unless, of course, the repair has nothing to do with a $3 spark plug.

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