Day’s Verse:
Go to the ant, O sluggard,
Observe her ways and be wise,
Which, having no chief,
Officer or ruler,
Prepares her food in the summer
And gathers her provision in the harvest.

Proverbs 6:6-8

Red Tree SunsetLeafblowers puzzle and astound me. As a youth living in leafy green Washington, I came to dislike raking just as thoroughly as the next girl; certainly the idea of moving the leaves while expending a little less energy would have appealed to me. But even at the height of the leaf-fall I never understood the use of a leafblower.

Leafblowers confound me for several reasons:

  1. They may actually be more work than raking, what with carrying around an entire engine (or motor) and wrestling with the long tube end.
  2. They rarely work as well as you would hope, often missing tenaciously stuck leaves and debris, and people seem to use them at the stupidest times — during rainy weather, for instance, or in high winds.
  3. Leafblowers pollute! The gasoline ones totally unnecessarily release CO2 into the atmosphere, as well as wasting expensive petroleum and probably also proving extremely hot to hold (this complaint applies to pretty much all gasoline-powered yard implements). Electric ones fare better on that count initially, but the electricity still has to come from somewhere so you can ultimately count them as polluting as well.
    • On this same note, you have to realize that raking is actually a fairly good aerobic activity in a large yard. The users hauling leafblowers probably work out separately from work, whereas if the raked they would have an opportunity to get exercise in while cleaning the yard.
  4. Leafblower-wielders tend to blow their debris into a nearby road, where the wind from traffic is likely to plain blow the stuff right back onto the freshly-cleared property. Also, the leafblower has such a wide range that it cannot channel everything into one pile to clean up, as raking allows you to do: Essentially, leafblowing by its very nature demands detritus-dumping onto roads.
  5. They make 10,000 to 1,000,000 times more noise than raking and can disturb a mile radius all around. In fact they put out about 115 decibels, a volume that causes hearing damage to unprotected ears in 30 seconds, according to this site. (On a side note, earphones listened to at 100 dB can cause hearing loss within 15 minutes, so think about turning those earbuds down, iPodders. I am one of you, by the way, and I do try to follow my own advice.) This feature requires “wise” leafblower users to wear hearing protection or sacrifice some irreplacable hearing to the supposed ease of blowing leaves.

Clearly leafblowers, despite these significant drawbacks, provide some appeal to people who continue to use them (to my everlasting aggravation). Mom and I discussed this conundrum and came up with a possible explanation: Those who use leafblowers are usually men. Men tend to like loud noises. Therefore men like leafblowers, despite their true inconvienence, because leafblowers make so much more noise than the alternative.

This brings up an interesting possibility. Could men, through the noisiness hook, be induced to take up other household chores? For instance, if a toilet scrubber put out 100 dB, would men more willingly clean toilets? Or if washing dishes by hand emitted an endleslly loud racket, would men leap to scrub pots? What do you think: Do men like leafblowers and other loud implements (gasonline lawnmowers, chain saws, weed whackers) because of their noisiness? What other household chores could be “improved” for men by adding an additional 85 dB?

8 thoughts on “Leafblowers and Men

  1. I totally agree with you about the complete awfullness of blowers. Nothing like a peaceful Saturday morning in summer–and then the whine of a leaf blower in the distance (or next door) starts up! I’ve found that most home-owners don’t bother with them but the “landscapers” who clean yards and commercial properties are the main culprits. On the subject of your question–I think that it’s not just the noise that attracts men to machine, it’s also the size. So if the toilet brush and dish scrubber could be big enough–you might have something there!

  2. Leafblower-wielders tend to blow their debris into a nearby road, where the wind from traffic is likely to plain blow the stuff right back onto the freshly-cleared property.
    Well, duh. How do you think professional leafblowers stay in business?

  3. If you could get toilet scrubbers to rev like a Camero when you ran them around the rim of the toilet bowl, I doubt if you’d get any more toilets cleaned but there’d definitely be televised competitions.

  4. Some men would definitely line up (and women too?): Look at motorcycles!
    There are silent brands available, yet many people still buy those obnoxious Harleys. The only reason can be that they like the noise!

  5. Heck, hasn’t Harley patented that distinctive roar? It’s the main draw for people; one woman I know had a midlife crisis that involved buying an enormous Harley, and what she loved was the NOISE! She revved it to show off for us and the neighborhood echoed with the engine. So that’s undoubtedly one of the major draws for driving a Harley.

  6. Actually, Katie the attraction to leaf blowers isn’t really the noise, its the fact that it lets some other powerful (yet useless) device to work for them. If you found a 5 HP, mechanical toilet bowl cleaner, I’m sure you could persuade your husband to help with the chores.

    It would definitely turn some heads at the next power tool conversation in the coffee room at work.

    Although your theory might explain my interest in the professional audio industry. 🙂

  7. The pastor at Mars Hill Church (where I’m attending) blames it on nagging wives. He says men like loud equipment because it drowns out loud women.

  8. I don’t really like loud implements, I prefer them quiet. However, I feel that pretty much any piece of equipment could be improved by adding an LCD screen and Wifi connectivity.

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