Philadelphia Metropolis


If I Had a Hammer...

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I recently attended a local Home Depot "Do it Herself" workshop called Basic Home Repair, figuring it might be of value since the highlight of my basic home repair knowledge is "lefty loosey, righty tighty."

The workshop was conducted by "George" and "Ted." Actually, George and Ted weren't their real names. I don't actually recall their real names, since, besides lacking basic home repair knowledge, I'm really bad at remembering names.

Fifteen or so people, mostly women, sat in a semi-circle in front of George and Ted. We participants shared a special bond - and it had nothing to do with the tube of KrazyÒ Glue someone had left behind on one of the folding chairs. The bond was the prospect of gaining Do-It-Yourself repair knowledge that might allow us to avoid asking for help fixing things from tired spouses or overpaid professionals. This prospect was exciting, almost as exciting as the fact I hadn't had to cook dinner that night.

Alas for George, nobody raised a hand when he asked: "Who has ever wanted to install a deadbolt?"  Perhaps George would have received a better response to "Who has ever wanted to lose two inches of thigh flab without giving up chocolate?" Or, better yet, "Anybody interested in where to find a real Louis Vuitton handbag for under $50?"

Despite our seeming lack of enthusiasm, Ted lifted a big door onto a table and sawed a circular hole with a carbide-hammer bit or drill-paddle-hammer carbide of some sort. It was definitely some kind of drill, hammer or bit. Or paddle.hammer.jpg

As I faded into total tool ineptitude, a perky blonde-haired woman to my left raised her hand and chirped, "I just installed a KwiksetÒ door knob all by myself." 

I hated this woman. Not just because she could install doorknobs. It was her ability to install doorknobs plus the fact her perfectly coiffed hair wasn't randomly stuffed up into a CVS hairclip like mine. Her smugness (perfectly combed hair in Home Depot?) somehow prompted the competitor in me to perk up a bit.

This was opportune, since George was now discussing butt markers and how to locate studs, certainly of more interest. George used the butt marker, (or maybe it was the carbide hammer paddle?) to show us how to put the lock in the door.

Next, Ted discussed hot water heaters and wiring. I think he said something about bare wires, or ground wires and how the black and red wires are hot. With all this talk about stud sensors, hot wires and butt markers I was truly alert now and suddenly thought of an important question to ask:

"Anybody know if there's an ATM nearby?

Hey - I needed cash for lunch money for my kids! So while pondering the future ATM trip, I pretended to look like I understood the deadbolt discussion. I didn't want to appear rude to George and Ted. I also didn't want to give Mrs. Smarty Wooden Plank Barbie Hair the satisfaction of knowing I was truly clueless.

The workshop ended, as I recall,with George or Ted, or maybe some other person, slicing or splicing wire and discussing programmable timers. Or something like that. 

One of Home Depot's former mottos is "You Can Do It. We Can Help." I only wish this was true for me. Maybe another workshop will give me more confidence. Who knows, I might be able to put in locks just like The Kwikset Queen. Maybe I'll even start remembering names.

In the meantime, I'll continue to hire a seemingly endless sea of suburban plumbers, electricians and carpenters for basic home repair jobs that I simply can't handle on my own. But I do adeptly wield one little tool - a pen. As I'm writing out checks.

And I Do It Myself.


Faith R. Foyil is a Bucks County writer and the author of two books: 'Sunny Daze: The Humorous Misadventures of a Tropical Island Mom' and '101 Haiku for Moms.'




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