Lawnmower Riddle

The informant describes a riddle about an old man and a lawnmower.  The informant explains that he heard this from a friend at work and found it a fun riddle that made him think outside of the box and left him unable to figure out the answer.  Below is a summary of the riddle:

A friend of mine has a father who is sixty-five and has mowed his own lawn for years and years and he has a gas-powered, push lawnmower.  He has lived at the same place, cut the same grass, and used the same lawnmower for years and years.  He began to complain that the lawnmower wasn’t working properly.  He used to be able to cut the grass on one tank of gas and now he had to fill the lawnmower up with gas before he could finish the job.  He took the lawnmower to a small engine repair shop in town and the shop gave a full tune up on the machine – new spark plug and general touch up.  He picked up the lawnmower and went back to weekly task of mowing the lawn but was quite frustrated because despite having spent money to tune it up, it still took a refill of gas before finishing.  The question is, what is wrong with the lawnmower? The answer to this riddle is that nothing had changed about the lawnmower, but what had changed was that the man was sixty-five years old and walking slower to cut the grass.  That explains why it took more gas.

This riddle is a classic example of a scenario that forces one to think outside of the box or normal thought patterns.  Riddles such as this one are quite common within the United States and around the world.  Their popularity most likely stems from individuals’ desire to prove their intelligence and ability to solve problems.  The riddle being about a man with a lawn and a lawnmower indicates that this riddle originated from a society that has lawnmowers and lawns to mow.  It is likely that a joke involving these two things would not exist in a society without lawns or grass.