The Evil of Paper Lawn Bags

Lawn bags in their native environment, Hell.

It’s leaf-raking time. It’s actually well past leaf-raking time, but that’s another story. It’s a time where I’ve been raking leaves. Forty-seven bags of them so far, and there are probably seven or eight more to go. No gimmicks or gadgets this time, just me and a rake and Satan’s cruelest device, a bunch of leaf bags.

Leaf bags may not be the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled, but they’re in the top five. Not many of us have to deal with Keyser Soze in our lives but year after year millions of homeowners have to struggle with these awful creations. If there were a soup spoon made out of nylon it would rival the lawn bag for the title of “most unsuited for its designed purpose”.

These things are created for one job and one job alone: folding up flat to make it easy to transport and sell millions of them. Any use you get out of them beyond that is lagniappe. It’s advertised that they stand up and hold leaves but that’s part of the sinister deception.

First there’s the standing up. Since they’re designed to fold flat that’s what lawn bags seek to do and what they’re best at. Standing them requires them to stay open and three-dimensional, and that’s not a job they can handle. Every instinct for a lawn bag is to collapse into itself, seeking the Divine Flat. Once you do manage to convince it to try staying open, the gentlest, most delicate breeze will KO the thing. If a butterfly flaps its wings in South America thousands of lawn bags across the US all tumble over, overcome by the violent buffeting.

Struggle for a while and the damned thing will eventually taunt you by staying upright and open. But this is just a game for it. Approach it with actual leaves and it’s no dice. Since the bags are only slightly thicker than the material they’re designed to hold, should a leaf — or, god forbid, a twig — brush up against it the bag will recoil in horror, folding up and twisting themselves into non-Euclidean geometries in order to avoid their alleged duty. And since the only surface on the bag that avoids Ideal Flatness is the very bottom, falling over is also a viable option, even when there’s enough material inside to resist the gale force winds of a young lover thirty miles away whispering tenderly into his beloved’s ear.

Small wonder there’s a cottage industry of prosthetics and exoskeletons which purport to help these wretched things do the one task their purchasers expect out of them.

Forty-seven bags I’ve done so far. Forty-seven battles I’ve fought with these things, each scoop of leaves a contest of wills. There’s a good reason for this legend:

Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night
May just blow all his leaves into the street because he just gives the hell up

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