A bunch of neighbors were sitting around the other night, talking yard work, and the conversation returned to a frequent target: a certain ex-neighbor, now long gone, who was unduly fond of his leaf blower. This is a familiar tale, how he tormented the block every autumn weekend chasing leaves around his small yard with his shrieking machine, leaving behind the lingering stench of gasoline fumes and resentment. I never met this fellow—he moved out before I moved in—but his legacy is secure: He is The Asshole With the Leaf Blower.
Perhaps that’s redundant. The tragedy of the leaf blower is that it makes assholes of us all, users and neighbors alike. The aggressively un-civil nature of these devices is the stuff of legend, especially here at Atlantic Media, where The Atlantic’s esteemed national correspondent, James Fallows, has led an epic campaign against the Leaf Blower Menace. Those who want to explore all the moral and environmental arguments should consult his deep body of advocacy first. But the short version goes like this: