As a general rule, I do not spend much time envying what someone else has. I must admit, however, I do envy those rare guys who keep all their tools neatly aligned in their shop.
You know the guy. Everything has its place. The saws are neatly arranged on a pegboard, all in order, small to large. The socket set is actually still in the hard plastic case it came in, and there are no missing pieces. Jacks on the bottom shelf, screwdrivers in the toolbox tray and every wrench from 1/4" to 15/16" side by side.
My shop, or more accurately, shed, looks like the Unabomber tried it out.
A 15-minute project takes two hours, the first hour and 45 minutes looking for whatever it is I can't find. I haven't seen my 3/4" wrench since Nixon resigned the presidency. Flathead or Phillips screwdriver ... makes no difference, I can't find either. Vise grip pliers? You'd need two quarts of WD-40 to make 'em unfold, which, by the way, I have about 12 cans of because I buy a new one when I leave the old one wherever it is that I left it. I believe in WD-40. If my axle on my truck broke in the middle of Interstate 75, I'd first spray it with WD-40 to see what happened.
I don't really need tools anyway because I can't fix a thing. I have put mower blades on upside down, car thermostats in backwards -- which, by the way, will make a '98 Buick run hot in about 18 seconds -- and I dropped a car off of one of those new crank jacks, almost losing a hand and the left rear fender of a Ford Focus.
Because of these deficiencies, I have but one way to make malfunctioning equipment work. I cuss it out, plain and simple.
If I pull 10 times on the chainsaw cord without a crank, the chainsaw is in for a real ear burner. I normally refer to its kinship to a female dog or fatherless birth, either one will do -- sometimes both.
Unfortunately, the 8-year-old princess witnessed such an outburst recently.
My push mower, which had been working perfectly, decided, like the Greek people, to go on strike. It was hot. I was tired, sweat dripping, and I said, "Listen you son of a -----. You sorry 'fatherless' junk, etc."
The princess ran into the house, shocked at such behavior. Not so shocked, I might add, to deter her from bringing the 7-year-old hurricane boy out to watch the display.
He was, as might be expected, delighted.
As soon as they both arrived for the grand finale, the female dog of a lawn mower rose from the dead and cranked up. The princess then asked what I was doing talking so ugly to the lawnmower. I explained that sometimes you need to cuss out a piece of equipment before it will crank.
The hurricane asked if he could try that out on his teachers. The princess giggled and asked, if just once, she could say one of those bad words. She and the hurricane can't wait to get old enough to be able to do the same.
Oh, well, I guess one should never forget the importance of teaching the young generation the old generation's ways.
Contact columnist T. Gamble at firstname.lastname@example.org.