Sunday column: Not a do-it-myselfer

Saturday, I purchased an air filter for our large basement heater from a local home improvement store.
It was the first air filter I’ve bought for the house.
I’ve lived there for 15 months now.
Needless to say, I’m horrible at most things related to home improvement. I enjoy mowing the yard and raking, I actually like to paint walls and cabinets and on the rare occasion, I can hammer a nail into something and make it stay there.
But when it comes to fixing a leaky faucet, re-wiring an electric outlet, assembling a do-it-yourself bookshelf or anything else that involves a little know-how and elbow grease, I’m flat-out terrible.
And I blame apartment living.
Sure, I could go back and blame my father … but he’s actually pretty good at that kind of stuff. I just never paid attention the few times he asked me to stick my head under the car hood and watch him work on an engine or told me to hold a wrench while he got under the kitchen sink. My mind was usually wandering, thinking about video games or girls … depending on my age at the time.
And when I finally got out on my own at the tender age of 18, my “living” experiences included a college dorm, a fraternity house and a long list of apartment complexes.
In the dorms, if a shower head quit working, it wasn’t just my problem, it was everybody’s problem on that floor (man, I hated community bathrooms).
At the fraternity house, if the clothes dryer was producing an odd smell and a bit of smoke from the electric outlet, then you can bet we used that machine until a small fire erupted. Then we threw it away and used a fraternity brother’s dryer until he finally gave up and sent it home with us.
In the apartments, if my refrigerator’s ice maker quit working, we called maintenance. Maintenance also mowed our yards, sent pest control by without us having to think about it, cleaned the outside of our windows about twice a year, brought us new light bulbs when ours went out and gave us new air filters every three months.
Three months. The amount of time you’re supposed to wait before changing the filter.
Not 15.
It’s amazing we’re able to breath today.
Before I sound totally useless as a man, I will go back to my painting skills, which I mentioned earlier. My wife and I moved into our first home in November of 2007, and our first order of business was painting the interior of the entire house. I was so good at it, my wife let me do the entire house …
… OK, so I’m just now starting to realize it was a ploy to get me to do the work.
Well played, Jennifer. Well played.
I did have another shining moment. Just before the big snow storm we got in January, the freezing temperatures caused our outside faucet to crack and shoot water everywhere. Still in my pajamas, I ran into the freezing water to find the problem, then instantly ran to the water shut-off valve to stop the spray.
After drying off and a battling a five-minute bout with the flu, I went to the aforementioned home improvement store, bought a plug and some cement, and plugged the broken pipe myself.
No plumber needed. No help from the neighbors.
I know, it’s a very small step. But it’s a step. And after I know we’re done with the freezes, the first thing I’m going to do is get a new faucet, saw off the plug, thread the pipe and connect it all by myself.
Sure, you can say I should have been prepared in the first place by covering my outdoor pipes.
But where’s the fun in that?
And I need to get better at this home improvement thing, with spring coming up and my wife wanting our front yard “improved.” It’s going to require a lot of digging, weeding, planting and raking on my part … but I’m ready for it.
And one of these days, I won’t be an embarrassment in her eyes.
That, and I’ll be breathing better, too.


2 thoughts on “Sunday column: Not a do-it-myselfer

  1. Hmmm…pretty liberal with the “instantly ran to the water shut-off valve to stop the spray” line. As I recall, you went looking for it then found me to ask where it was located…;)

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