I then proceeded to call the same company I’d last spoken to about the concrete grinder. I told them what I planned to do and once again, I was discouraged from renting equipment for the job. The person I spoke to was very eager to help, but said my best bet would be to attach a chain to my car, lasso the chain around the shrub and put my foot on the gas. I’ve seen people use this method before, but I have real reservations about what it might do to my car’s suspension, not to mention my lawn. Plus, this method wouldn’t make a very good story for this feature. So, I persisted in my quest to rent the stump grinder. After hearing more about my plans for the machine, the rental employee came to the conclusion there was a distinct possibility I would damage the blade of his stump grinder if I used it for destroying the root balls of my shrubs. Bottom line, he said he wouldn’t rent the machine to me for this purpose.
I called another rental business, and got the same answer. I tried one more place, an independent hardware store with a rental department. I called and spoke to the rental manager, who was more than happy to rent me their stump grinder for digging out my shrub stumps. I was frankly surprised, given that two other places had told me it wasn’t the tool for the job. But this individual said it would work, so I tentatively reserved the unit for the weekend.
Reservations about my reservation
I began to have some qualms about my shrub removal project. I wondered why this last rental business was willing to rent me a stump grinder when two others would not. I also began to fear that what I was about to rent was not the handy compact model I’d seen on the other company’s website. To assuage my fears, I decided to stop by the hardware/rental store where I’d made my reservation. I spoke to the same employee, who remembered our conversation and was happy to show me the stump grinder he had in fleet. We walked out to the yard and my heart sank when what I saw what was an older model, traditional-size stump grinder. I knew right away from the size of the unit that it would be overkill for my project, so I told the employee thanks, but no thanks.
I began to wonder if anyone would help me get this job done. I knew of one more place, another hardware/rental store which I’d rented from before. When I visited the store, right in the middle of the showroom was exactly the stump grinder I had in mind. I told the employee helping me what I wanted to do and he was happy to reserve the unit for me for the following day.
When I arrived the next morning to pick up the stump grinder, I casually mentioned to a different employee what I planned to do with the machine. No one seemed to bat an eye at my ideas, or my diminutive stature and lack of brawn. They didn’t ask me if I had help on hand, or if I had experience with heavy equipment.
Well, I did get help rolling the unit off the truck (thankfully!) but I was determined to do the rest of the project myself. My ambition was quickly sapped, however, when it came time to push the machine out to where I needed to use it. I simply could not move it more than a couple of feet at a time. The thing easily weighed a couple hundred pounds. Still, I managed to get it in the general area of the work, but try as I might, there was no way I could push it up the slight incline to the stumps that needed to be removed. At that point, I knew there was no way this machine and I were going to get this job done together.
It turns out the rental would not be a waste, however, as my neighbor had a tree stump he needed to grind down, so we rolled the machine over to his yard and went to work. The machine worked beautifully, as long as my neighbor was operating it. I did make one attempt at operation, which was successful for a couple of minutes until I had to move the machine for even grinding. I just could not make that bad boy go anywhere.
Likewise, my neighbor took one turn at one of my shrub stumps, but the pokey branches stopped up the blade immediately. Evidently, this machine was not designed to handle the purpose I had in mind for it, as I had orginally been told by two rental businesses.
I managed to get the stump grinder back to the rental business in one piece. The owner asked me how it performed and I had to be honest, it worked great for my neighbor’s tree stump, but did nothing for my shrub stumps. I should note I spent $60 for a four-hour rental of the stump grinder, and another $30 to rent a truck to transport it. At the end of the day, this didn’t feel like money well spent.
You can’t always be your customer’s hero
I spent some time pondering the moral of this story and I think it is this: Sometimes you need to say no to your customer. Early in this rental odyssey, I was a little irritated, and maybe even a tad offended, when I was repeatedly turned down for rentals. Looking back, I realize these rental professionals were quite astute. For all of my ambition and enthusiasm, they knew I was inexperienced with heavy equipment and could probably tell I wasn’t really built for its operation.