A local Red Deerian is offering up his wood chopping services free of charge for people in the central Alberta area and is gaining quite the social media following. Joshua Rathwell and his chainsaw named ‘Karen’ began chopping and stacking wood as a way of staying in shape while gyms were closed for the COVID-19 pandemic, last year.
“I was watching Rocky IV and there's a scene where he's training and he's outside in a blizzard and chopping firewood and I thought ‘Okay well, that could be a way that I could stay active and get out there’. So, I put myself on market place,” said Rathwell.
His ads on Facebook have become quite popular but the comments on his posts have become less about chopping wood and more about Rathwell’s looks.
“My daughter had come with me on a job she took some pictures and then there was another gentleman up in Blackfalds. He was so excited that I was chopping up his firewood for free. He took a couple pictures and he sent those to me. I just thought I'd add them into my new ad just to give it a little personality, last year. Then I forgot about it and about two hours later, I had a friend of mine reach out to me and said ‘you might want to look at your ad,’ and so I looked and sure enough it was blowing up like crazy,” explained Rathwell.
He posts in several buy and sell groups but one of his most popular ads had over 650 responses and over 400 comments.
“I'm not going to say it's not flattering, but I thought it was more funny than anything else. I remember the first night I was backtracking, I was reading through the comments for probably about an hour just laughing… I think it's more or less just to be funny, so I don't really take the comments too seriously,” said Rathwell.
Overall, he is happy to have the attention to get the word out and earn a few more jobs. Last year, he had around 50 to 60 chopping jobs in the area. He is also using the attention to teach a valuable lesson to his daughters.
“I have a 10-year-old and a 12-year-old daughter and I'm trying to teach them that you can't control what other people do and what other people say, especially on social media,” said Rathwell.
Most of the people who take him up on his offer end up needing the service because they are unable to chop the wood themselves due to physical limitations.
“I couldn't really discriminate between who couldn't who couldn't do the work and so therefore, I didn't want to charge anybody for it,” added Rathwell.
He still has no intentions of charging anyone for the service.
“About six or seven years ago, when the recession like really hit me, I lost my job. I really struggled but I had a few people in my life and people who didn't know me and didn't owe me anything but they reached out and they helped me out in big ways. They never asked for anything in return and that kind of stuck with me,” said Rathwell.
This year, Rathwell has ditched the gym membership and continues to chop for his free wood splitting service called ‘Call in the Choppa’. He does sell some merchandise to cover the costs of upkeeping his equipment including his chainsaw ‘Karen’.
“I never bought one before. I had trouble getting it started. I named it, Karen because you know, she is the loudest one out of the whole family. Two, because she only works when she wants to. And three, when she warms up she can really go off the chain and it just played well,” he added.
Rathwell is currently working to expand his merchandise business so he can fundraise money for the Women’s Outreach Centre. He is also looking for partnerships to do further charity work. He has a goal of doing a ‘chop-off’ with the Red Deer Emergency Services in support of local.