Sunday, March 3, 2013

I'm Not Handy

I’m not “handy.” 

I think I was in high school when my mother took a private moment to speak seriously to me.  She said, “You are smart enough to be anything you want to be.  Well, maybe not a mechanic.”

I didn’t know quite what to say, because my mother and I didn’t seem to communicate easily.  So I said, “I could be a mechanic if I wanted to be, I think.”  She could have gone on to explain some more what was on her mind, which I can imagine now what I think it was, but she didn’t know quite what to say, so she said, “Well, maybe.”

I thought that if I really wanted to be something, I could do it.  At least at that time, I was pretty confident.  I guess I was doing well.

But in fact, I don’t think I could have been a mechanic.  In fact, I don’t think I could have been that good a handyman – although, if I had really wanted to do it, I think I could have done it.  I still think that.  It would just take some work.  But I get pretty impatient.

In fact, one of the things I really didn’t want to be was an obstetrician.  Can you imagine what to do when the baby is stuck halfway in and halfway out?  OBs deal with it.  They don’t like it, but they deal with it.  That’s what they’re good at.  The neurosurgeon who devised the operation I had two years ago, Charlie Wilson, now he had a genius.  I imagine him watching his hands do the things they needed to do.  That sure wouldn’t be me.

Not that I can’t do anything.  In 1975 I installed a Radio Shack AM-FM-tape deck player with a rear speaker in my Duster, and my father said, “I’m impressed!”  My father, of course, was a neurosurgeon who did “carpentry” in the body and brain all the time and devised new procedures.  Being an essentially kind soul when it came to his eldest, he no doubt reflected the deed as opposed to the capability.  Not becoming a neurosurgeon was one of my better decisions.

But help springs eternal.  Today I came into the house from out back in my study and announced to my wife, “I have my triumph for the day!”  Some weeks ago my computer speaker had gone on the fritz.  It wouldn’t come on.  This had happened a few months ago and who fixed it?  Lola, the three year old.  She loves to bang on the computer, and somehow she just fixed it.  But I figure it had just happened again.  I couldn’t impose on her to use her talents again.

So, last week I was at Costco and I sprang for a $44 set of speakers, tiny things.  Still, I wasn’t sure I could get them to work.  But I did it!  I figured out how to set them up, I plugged them into the computer, and they worked!  For me, it was a triumph.  I felt good.  My wife knows how this goes for me, so she congratulated me, sincerely.

Then, later today, I went back out to the study and got a little fancy.  I had had the little speakers on the floor under the desk near all the wires and plugs from the computer.  So I grabbed them and put them up on a little ledge under the desk where paper used to be placed for a dot-matrix printer.  Pretty neat, if I did say so myself.

Since I was there, I looked down at the floor again and noticed that there was a free plug not plugged into the surge protector.  There was an open receptacle, so I plugged it in.  Hmmm, I thought, I wonder….  So I turned on the old, broken speaker and guess what?  On it went!

I’m much handier than I thought!  I fixed two problems in one day!

Still probably a good idea I didn’t go into neurosurgery.

Budd Shenkin

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