It’s hard being so handy

Those of you with personal knowledge of my skills as a handyman will no doubt snicker when I say this, but my carefully cultivated reputation as a dependable fix-it guy around the house appears to be in jeopardy.

I know what you’re thinking so before you say “what reputation” here’s proof that I can hammer a nail without smashing my thumb black and blue.

  • I’ve painted every single room in our house. A couple of them twice.
  • I’ve replaced our dishwasher and wired it up without electrocuting myself.
  • Ditto, with our garbage disposer, which, by the way, got clogged with potato peels the other day. Who do you think took care of that? Me.
  • I recently fixed one of our garage doors after one of the tension cables snapped causing it to come crashing down so hard I nearly jumped into the rafters.
  • And finally, I hung a cubby shelf in my daughter’s room. This took a certain degree of skill with a drill. Power tools, though, are my best friends.

True, I’ve sometimes needed help from a neighbor and, yes, the fix often takes longer than necessary and might even require multiple trips to the handyman store, but here’s the point: I didn’t have to have some other guy come over to my house and charge me an exorbitant fee. I did these things myself.

However, the trouble with being a successful handyman is you’re only as good as you’re last project. Unfortunately, I’ve been struggling to overcome some fix-it issues lately.

My troubles started with a floor lamp I bought a few weeks ago. It came with a gimped switch. My wife said, “You should just take it back and have them exchange it for a different one.” But I said, “Oh, that’s more trouble than it’s worth.” And, I went on to assure her that it was an easy fix.


Of course, I over-thought the situation and took the thing apart when all it needed was one of those plastic doo-hickey things you use to switch lamps on and off.

What should have been a simple operation is now complicated by my ignorance of how one should properly wire lamps. Every time I think I have it right, a breaker trips when I plug the lamp in, cutting power in our family room.

I’ve very nearly given up on my ability to figure out what I’m doing wrong, so until the light bulb above my head switches on, the lamp likely isn’t going to. (It may not work but at least it looks good in our house. And, in case you’re wondering, I refuse to exchange it. I have my pride).

I’m not the only one in my family who has been guilty of over-thinking things lately. My wife recently woke me up in the middle of the night in a panic because she thought something was wrong with my Blackberry (she knows how much I adore the thing). Apparently, it was buzzing and lighting up without a call or a message coming in. I was too tired to deal with it so I just rolled over. It turns out that going back to sleep was not the best move.

When I got up in the morning, the phone appeared to be operating normally except its trackball was missing. Any Blackberry addict will tell you that the trackball is a key part of the high users get from their phones. When quizzed, my wife acknowledged that in her certainty that something was wrong, she tried to clean the trackball but that it fell apart. I spent all morning unsuccessfully trying to put its tiny parts back together. In the end though, my handy guy skills were no match. I’ve had to order a new trackball.

You’d think my failure to restore things that really didn’t need fixing in the first place would be discouraging. But with the spring growing season right around the corner, there is the promise of new challenges, which brings me to our yard. I think I can rescue what’s left of my handy reputation if I can just get actual grass to grow.

You can stop snickering now.


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