June 29, 2006

I wrote this several years ago before HGTV became so big with home repair and home purchasing. I did some 'home improvement' on my own but finally decided to break the bank and invite a contractor in to have a go at bringing the house up to an acceptable level again. It did cost a pretty penny I admit, but we are very pleased with it all.

By Jim Kittelberger

One of the joys of home ownership is the chance to tinker in 'home improvement'. Home improvement is a multi-kazillion dollar industry that tells American men that you don't need to hire a professional, you can do it yourself and save lots of dollars and be proud of your accomplishments. The sales job has been hugely successful, but the sad fact remains that there is a segment of the American male and female population that are outrageously inept mechanically. I believe I may be the calendar boy of that group. It's not that I'm stupid exactly, but I definitely lean toward being mechanically challenged. My fingers, for example, don't seem to be able to hold a screwdriver in the appropriate slots for more than one turn before it pops out. Maybe I'm a little cross-eyed, but I can't hammer three nails in succession without one of them bending in the wrong direction. I have installed overhead fans, but each night when I say my prayers I give a little thanks to God for leaning a little on the side of the unskilled, and saving us all from going up in flames. I got some dandy power tools from my late father-in-law's estate that he used with precision and proficiency. I, of course, have lost the user manuals, and am reluctant to use THE table saw. I know the saw looks at me with repugnance as a horse seems to with a novice rider. I am throughly intimidated by it's ability to eliminate one or all of my fingers in a microsecond without warning. I am in awe of that kind of power, thus I keep the electrical current away from that one. My aforementioned father-in-law was the antithesis of me. He was so good with his hands and anything mechanical. He could work with electrical wiring without first turning off the electricity, because he knew which wire not to touch or whatever, it was all a magical ability to me. His daughter, my wife, has been the model of spousal support by never comparing his abilities to my woeful arsenal of ineptness. But comparison is inevitable, and I know below her understanding smile and supportive assistance is an 'oh my', and a shaking head when another nail is bent. I blame the shame I live with on the Home Improvement industry and their attempts to put their power tools into hands that should never, I repeat, never be allowed free rein with instruments that can bore holes through walls, slice through a large piece of wood like it was butter, or shoot nails like bullets into anything they wish. There should be a little qualifying quiz given to anyone who steps up to buy one of these marvelous inventions, like "can you pound a nail in straight?" That will eliminate guys like me and make America and the world a much safer place in which to live.

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