Call me The Lawnmower Man.
No, not that Lawnmower Man.
In a truly cosmic insult-to-injury, my two-year old lawnmower keeps crapping out on me. To make matters worse, the grass in the back of my house grows exponentially faster than the grass in the front, which has created a two-tiered, multi-step lawn maintenance regimen that, frankly, I couldn’t be less interested in.
During quarantine, properties across America have no doubt been manicured in a way that would make The Truman Show community proud because, hell, we have the time. And while I don’t go gaga over a freshly cut and edged lawn, I can appreciate the work it takes to maintain my property. After all, I’m in full control of that maintenance in a time when our control has largely been usurped by the virus.
So the fact that my stinkin’ mower decided to only work the equivalent of a long hockey shift before shutting down has been maddening at best. I tried charging the battery more often. I tried charging the battery less often. I tried changing the height of the blades. I tried only mowing in sub-90 degree weather.
And I kept failing.
Finally, I read the instructions (total dad move to do that last), and voila! I had been working the mower too hard.
See, the mower can only cut as fast and efficiently as it is designed to. But because I can only work as fast and efficiently as I am designed to, the mower and I, well, we’re not bros.
Shortly after that discovery, a staff member called, likely to discuss the myriad unrealistic reopening expectations placed on NJ public educators.
“You need to slow down. I’m worried about you,” she said.
“I’m fine. There’s just so much to do,” I told her.
“Listen to me. You have to slow down. You can’t work this much and be healthy.”
The call came about a week after our staff meeting, which I opened by telling our staff that I’m not going to pretend all is well and that if we all stick together we’ll get through this. Because platitudes are weak and reductive. Especially now.
I told them that I am struggling. I told them I haven’t written. I told them I wasn’t excited about the opening of the MLB season.I told them my anxiety is through the roof. I “joked” that at least I can count on my Lexapro.
That’s how I realized that I have become The Lawnmower Man.
But instead of my mower not keeping up with the frenzied pace that I set for it, I can’t keep up with the frenzied pace I set for myself.
If we’re going to lead in the age of COVID, we’re going to have to work harder than we ever have. But part of working harder is working smarter.
Take it from me, The Lawnmower Man.