Man or Machine? The Leaves Must Go!

The leaves must go!


Do you know the legend of John Henry? The legend goes something like this. Born a slave, John Henry was freed after the Civil War.  He was a big man (particularly for his time). He worked as a steel driver for the railroads. Many people challenged him, but John Henry was clearly the best at drilling holes.

Then, a machine was invented that could serve as a steel driver.  John Henry competed against the steel driver. It was Man v. Machine. And John won! One for man. However, after the competition was completed the John Henry fell to the ground, exhausted. The giant man was dead. Some say this legend is true.

You know full well how I feel about mowing the lawn and that I would do anything get out of it.  None the less, I am the head landscaper at MMK headquarters. Not only does that mean mowing the lawn but it also entails raking the leaves.

Now I could hire a landscaper to handle the task of raking the leaves and have done so over the years. But this year was different. I decided to do it myself.

Truth be told, I don’t mind raking the leaves. I love watching the pile grow as I gather the leaves together.  I love the rustling sound the leaves make as I rake them from the backyard to the curb. I feel a sense of accomplishment as I see the dried out yellow red and brown pile grow.  As the leaves are removed from the backyard, I imagine that I have reclaimed my land. Yes, raking the leaves makes me feel hearty. By the way, I think I could survive on the prairie.  (Don’t laugh Ms. MMK)

My next door neighbor has a leaf blower. He’s also a friend and generous. So, I asked him to borrow the leaf blower. Yes, I know what I said about raking the leaves. However, there are a number of trees in and around my yard which makes raking the leaves no small chore. So, despite my zest for raking the leaves, it takes hours to get the yard raked and reasonably clear of leaves.

Mind you, before I used the leaf blower I had already done one round of raking.  Yet more leaves had fallen and there was work to be done. Generally, I’m not the typical guy who is into power tools, but I was excited to use the leaf blower. It reminded me of the proton pack the guys used in Ghostbusters.

I was ready to fire that sucker up – sorry rake – and clear my yard. I could be hearty with a power tool. Nice. Now, after asking the landscaper across the street to help me start the leaf blower – hey, the instructions weren’t clear.  I went to my yard. The leaves stood no chance.

Forty five minutes later. The leaf blower had helped me create a nice size pile of leaves.

Yet, there were still many leaves in my backyard.  In fact, the leaves were not even all the way out to the curb. The power tool had run out of gas. While I had more gas, I decided I would do the last bit with the rake.

I grumbled as I had completed the job without the leaf blower.  Aren’t power tools and technology supposed to get the job done perfectly? We humans pretty much sit back and contemplate while the power tools and technology do the heavy hitting?

Well, this Luddite had a thought. I expect too much from power tools and technology. A number of times I’ve tried, read or heard about various pieces of technology and thought that’s it?  Yes, that is it. Technology and power tools have a purpose and serve a function.  These items can’t think, can’t do everything, and can’t make it all better. Technology has limitations. Not only that, the power tools and technology work best for someone who is skilled at using the items. I bet the landscaper across the street could have made more progress than I did. It’s his job.

I think I need to learn more about power tools and technology. This way I’ll be able to utilize the items to the fullest and know their limitations.

However, for the rest of this Fall season, I’m going to stick to the rake.  I wonder how John Henry would handle the leaves? Man or machine?

14 thoughts on “Man or Machine? The Leaves Must Go!

  1. Since I HATE leaf blowers I’d opt for a rake and a bag. I figure we can make like John Henry but since we aren’t actually racing the machine we can slow down just enough to make sure we don’t have a heart attack while working.

    • I probably should take breaks. However, I’m the type who prefers to work till the job is done. I really work up a good sweat that way!

  2. (Stands up) “I have a leaf blower. It also acts as a leaf sucker. but…i prefer raking the leaves.” (Sits Down)

    Reading your post made me think of the Amish. They do so much by hand, and you can really tell in the craftsmanship. When you are so hands on a project, even raking leaves, you are so much closer to the details, and the finished project shows the extra work.

    Always love reading your insight on things.

    • Thanks Spike.
      Why do you prefer raking? It it the close to the project thing?
      Interesting tie-in to the Amish. I don’t mind wearing black but I think churning butter would be tough.

  3. We don’t have a leaf blower, but we do have two teenage sons, so that’s handy. 😉

    Your point about technology making things truly more efficient is a good one. It isn’t always the case. For example, electronic medical records. Yes, we need them, and I would never go back to paper charts, but efficient? Not so much. A clinician spends much more time charting than with a paper chart. So many boxes to check, templates to choose, steps to take, not to mention the incompatibility of different systems. Experts continually strive to improve on them, and it will eventually happen, but until then, there will be some flustered clinicians and staff.

    • Still a few years away from having 2 teenage boys here. That part of having them sounds convenient.
      Technology is not perfect and it doesn’t make everything great. However, it definitely can be very helpful and make things easier. I hope that will be the case soon with medical records.

  4. If my tree was any bigger, I’d have a leaf sucker so I could use the leaves as mulch. As such, I don’t even have to bother raking (yet), but I’m not giving up my leaf blower for when I mow and weed eat the yard! So much better than the broom!

  5. We didn’t even HAVE the choice between man and machine when I was a kid. We were simply doing it “by hand” together with my Dad who had the talent to even make it fun for us!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *