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Archive for the ‘repairs.apptitude & attitude’ Category

Not Ms. Fix It

My friend’s hot water heater had a nervous breakdown this week.  After getting my recommendation for a plumber, she called back later that afternoon to tell me the pilot light had been re-lighted. She would soon have hot water, but had to pay $85 for the privilege.

After commiserating for a while I mentioned that my next project (or attempted project) was the hanging of new mini blinds to replace the ones my rowdy kitten had recently demolished.  I say “attempted project” because anything involving electric screwdrivers and drills makes me nervous.  Very nervous.

I have no mechanical ability.  None. Zip.  Never met a nail I couldn’t manage to drive in crooked, never sawed a board which didn’t turn out to be too short or long, never mind that old adage to “measure twice and cut once.”  Light fixtures in which I have replaced a light bulb have been known to come crashing to the floor in the middle of the night.

I don’t think skill with tools is gender based. I’m a lot like my grandfather. He couldn’t do even simple repairs, but insisted on attempting them, until my grandmother hid the hammer and nails from him.  (Maybe it’s genetic.)  My grandmother, on the other hand, could saw, paint, hammer nails and build fences.

So it’s clear that all women are not mechanically challenged.  My friend Barb can do most household repairs herself.  She has her own toolbox.  Her dad taught her the basics and nothing intimidates her.  Another friend, Kathy, is a first rate carpenter and can not only do maintenance—she can build entire rooms!

Me, not so much.

My late husband knew about my ineptness and he either did or hired a contractor to do all things mechanical around our place.  This presumption that he would handle “all that” ruffled my feminist sensibilities—at first.  After seeing what a mess I made of any “projects” I attempted, we both agreed that work involving tools—especially power tools– would be his job. It was both safer and more pleasant that way. And so it went for 28 years, until he passed away 15 months ago.

My husband’s very good but much younger friend Keith has been a godsend to me.  He calls every couple of months to ask if I need anything done.  And if I do, he comes out promptly and takes care of things.  But Keith has a very responsible fulltime job, a family and lots of things to do with his time.  I feel comfortable asking only every so often, even when he tells me to call “anytime.”  And I can’t really afford to pay someone to come out for each tiny “emergency.”

So far I’ve managed to put together the new vacuum cleaner (who knew the darn things were plastic and came in pieces?), to patch some small holes in the wall and to do a passable job with the electric trimmer/edger (if you don’t count the one cord I cut in half.)

And now I have discovered a book called The-You-Don’t-Need-A-Man-to-Fix-It-Book. I’m reading chapters like “Getting to Know Your Plumbing” and “Hanging Things on Walls.”  There may be hope for me, but I’m not buying a nail gun yet.

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