Three of anything can be a good thing. I own three pairs of slacks, three sets of skis, and three hockey jerseys. The slacks decorate my closet and hang next to three dress shirts behind three ties. My wife, Hun, insists I keep them in case we’re invited to a wedding. Over the past 15 years I’ve only been to three of those.
There is a rule of three. Whenever you own three of something, one will either be too small, too large, or just right. This theorem works for my slacks and belts. The problem is that the frequency of being too tight is greater than being too loose. I also have three trailers, one for sleeping, one for hauling trash, and the other for hauling whatever else. Guys have purpose when towing a trailer. Our lives have meaning.
Among my greatest joys are three lawnmowers. They are the tools that help me change my yard one swath at a time. I need a third because the other two usually aren’t working. They conspire and take turns not starting. Then again if all three ran, there’s only one of me to operate them.
Hun gets credit for discovering the third mower. She knows I frequently destroy them and has become a lawnmower aficionado. “The hardware store has a Husqvarna on sale,” she said one weekend. “Hitch a trailer, and check it out.”
I was born in Sweden and try to support their economy, so I headed out with trailer in tow. I own a Husqvarna chain saw (only one) that saws engine blocks. We also own a Husqvarna weed-eater that, in addition to whacking weeds, has more power than a Toyota Prius. It can also wax and buff a car. I figured their lawnmowers must be good. Hun’s reconnaissance was correct but incomplete. The mower was actually a self-propelled-front-wheel-drive Husqvarna HU 700F, powered by a Honda motor. Honda?
I stared at the mower and contemplated deeply for three seconds. Sweden, in the far northern hemisphere, is about 26 latitudes and 123 longitudes away from Japan. I understand we have a global economy, but how did this happen?
I picture a conference room in Stockholm with IKEA furnishings. Photos of Bjorn Borg adorn the wood-paneled walls. ABBA music plays softly. Design engineers, Sven and Yoshi, pitch the concept to their respective Boards. These cultures rarely match up on a hockey rink or judo mat, but the decision makers listen.
Sven: “The mower starts on first pull. The mower is orange. Tack [thanks].”
Yoshi: “The blade is sharp. It can slice tomato. Arigato [thanks].”
The tall Swede and the reserved Japanese, men of few words, wait patiently for feedback. The executives nod, then approve.
“Our nations have filled American garages with cars. Let’s now fill their sheds.”
The men shake hands, and project Husqvarna HU 700F is born.
I bought the mower and loaded my trailer. Other guys smiled as I exited the parking lot, affirming my purchase. I backed in the driveway, unloaded the mower and wheeled it to Hun. She started the engine on the first pull and squeezed the throttle. “Whoa,” she exclaimed. Her arms jerked forward. “That thing can pull a water-skier!”
I am confident these two great companies created a long-lasting and reliable lawnmower. The irony of this global collaboration is that an American is pushing it, or in this case, getting yanked out of his boots. Husqvarna and Honda would really corner the lawnmower market if they added radar to locate hidden garden hoses, tennis balls, and rocks.
I look forward to when the Japanese and Swedes combine sushi with lutefisk.
Readers: Send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org or join the Etc. Guy Facebook page.