To be fair to leaf blowers, there are a lot of things that make noise in the suburbs. Old man down the street with a jacked-up Dodge Ram 1500 Hemi with lawn mowers, garbage truck, generator and Joe, the Flowmaster Super 10. They all cause a certain amount of country-style movement. But no other suburban noisemaker has the ability to rage as quickly and completely as leaf blowers, even if your local noise ordinances limit their use to gas or electricity between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. , it makes little difference. Both are loud – up to 100 dB at 50 feet, or the equivalent of a chainsaw. The gas variety has the added benefit of exhaust fumes throughout the neighborhood. And they are hellishly ubiquitous in ‘burbs’.
The reasons why leaf blowers are ultimately so unmanageable are reduced to like three main reasons. They:
Timbre: Is there a more disturbing sound in the world than the sound of a leaf blower? It’s basically a gas- or electric-powered Mosquito connected to the world’s largest megaphone, and the Mosquito was already designed to produce the most annoying sound in the world. Nevertheless, mankind has managed to raise to an excruciating level, which nature had already made unbearable. Thank you, mankind.
Besides the amount of noise it makes (the window that blocks the sound isn’t invented), leaf blowers are an auditory water torture. At first, it breaks an ear, completely at very close range, getting louder, then softer, then louder… off. is it done? Can I turn the TV back on or resume my telephone conversation? Can I relax—on! Faster than ever! As long as this suffering continues, all other activities of life stop while you wait and wait for it to end…then wait for it to start again. You must be mentally exhausted by the time you blow the last leaf.
Time: The time the leaf blower starts is always the worst time. Maybe you’re putting your little golden baby down to take a nap. Maybe you have a chance, whatever you do, all day long to sit down with a cocktail and that bestseller you’ve been dying to debut. Or you and your loved one are going to have a difficult discussion about a certain situation you’ve been avoiding for 20 years. Whatever it is, a leaf blower somewhere in your neighborhood (meaning it’ll look like it’s in your kitchen) will pop up as soon as you start. Your plans, however important, will be postponed and/or cancelled. You will never get those three hours of your life back. They were stolen by the leaf blower.
Torpessence: Leaf blowers evolved from agricultural equipment and came into popular use in the late 1970s. I was a pre-leaf blower kid in the 1970s. I don’t remember there being an annual, autumn crisis in which layers of fallen leaves covered every single square inch of suburban America, halting all commerce and transportation, because there was no possible way to get rid of them. Was. That’s because we had rakes! We used a rake to collect all those leaves and put them in bags to take to the dump. Or we burned them. Took hours. It kicked us out of the house (parenting bonus). It exhausted us and we neither quarreled nor talked amongst ourselves and went to sleep immediately after dinner. Also raking leaves was fun, mostly. We made huge mounds of leaves. We jumped in them. We were occasionally left under those leaves by some sort of sharp lawn tool, but that was only a minor inconvenience because we were wearing Tufskins, which were mostly puncture-proof. Plus we were up to date on our tetanus shots.
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But, today, heaven forbid, we must demand that our precious, over-scheduled kids distance themselves from Tick-grams and Mortal Theft Auto and Mario Duty or whatever, and go out and rake in the yard and do some Get exercise and fresh air or, really, do whatever it takes to contribute to the maintenance of the family home. We certainly can’t ask hardworking parents to spend a few hours outside on lawn maintenance, when weekends have bike rides and golf excursions and tennis and spa days and kids’ team sporting events. It takes an endless litany to partake in far and wide. Clearly, a leaf blower is the only possible way to effectively deal with fallen leaves.
So, in short: The loud, obnoxious, omnipresent leaf blower is the evil embodiment. Unless it’s yours.