March 8, 2010
Yesterday I decided to make some man points. (-1 for knowing I need them.) Recently we purchased online a big metal rack to hold free weights. (+1). The delivery guy left the package outside the door when we were gone. I wasn’t strong enough to carry it inside. (-1 for having no upper body strength.) So I tipped it on its end and “walked” it into the garage. (+1 for using science to move a heavy object.)
The rack required assembly. This was a problem because all of my tools had been stolen from the garage last week. (-1 for leaving tools unprotected. -1 for having so few tools that they all fit in one basket. -1 for not replacing them the same day. -1 for not having an attack dog in the garage.)
The main tool I needed was a rather huge Allen wrench. I didn’t own that sort of tool even in the days when I had tools. (-1 for inadequate toolage.) So I dropped everything, jumped in the car, and headed to Home Depot for a tool buying spree. (+1 for going on a hunt for tools. -1 for calling it a spree. +1 for intending to buy tools for which I had no immediate use.
As soon as I got to Home Depot I asked a guy who was wearing an orange apron for directions to the men’s room and the tool aisle. (-1 for asking directions. -1 for having a bladder like a pregnant woman. -1 for not already knowing where the tool aisle was at my local Home Depot.)
I saw a display of hammers and acted as if I were evaluating them by lifting each one and giving it a mock motion toward, in no particular order, a nail, a victim, and beer can. I quickly found that I can’t tell the difference between a good hammer and bad one. (-5). I went down the row and tossed screwdrivers, pliers, wrenches, drill bits, and anything else that looked remotely useful in my cart. At the checkout counter I grabbed two Snickers and worried that maybe I’m eating too much chocolate lately. (-1)
Back home, fully tooled, I discovered that the bench was apparently used, or at least beat up pretty badly. I considered sending it back. (-1) But in the end I figured that it would just get banged up in a week anyway, so no big deal. (+3) I commenced assembly.
My first problem is that there were no step-by-step assembly instructions, just a picture of the parts along with arrows as to where they should end up. (-1 for wishing I had step-by-step directions.) I reckoned I needed a crew of four to hold the shelves and the ends in place so I could tighten the bolts with my brand new oversized Allen wrench. (-1 for needing help.) All of the pieces of the shelf were steel and very heavy, so you couldn’t hold it together with one hand while applying bolts with the other. And my garage was not outfitted with oversized clamps. (-1 for having no oversized clamps.) I considered asking Shelly for help. But if you need help from your wife at this stage of a project, you might as well use the box cutter you just bought at Home Depot to remove your own nards and keep them in a jar in the kitchen, on the spice rack between the cumin and the bay leaves. (-1 for being able to name two spices.) So I stood and stared at the various components of my potential weight rack and rotated the pieces in my mind until I could imagine a set of steps that would make a team of helpers unnecessary. (+1.)
It worked. Not only had I purchased the correct tools (+1), but I figured out a way to tilt and prop the bench parts in just the right way to make it a one-man(ish) job. Now all I needed to do was vacuum some debris left from the packaging and it was a job well done. And for that I needed…my Shop-Vac. (+1 for having a Shop-Vac.)
The Shop-Vac stared at me from across the garage. It was a Medusa-like tangle of power cord, hose tentacle, and attachments. I would need to move it nearly ten feet without strangling myself, losing an eye, or breaking an ankle. This time I wasn’t afraid. My testosterone was spiked from assembling the weight rack, and from being around lots of new tools. For once, this would be a fair fight. I grabbed the Shop-Vac’s hose, it countered by dropping an attachment on my foot. I yanked its power cord, and it swung around and knocked over a screen. When I went to save the falling screen, just as the Shop-Vac planned, the hose wiggled out of my hand and wiped the tool bench clean of all items weighing less than a pound. Oh, now I was in it. Soon the air was filled with curses and the sounds of screaming wheels on concrete. There were arms and hoses and cords everywhere. I moved the Shop-Vac five feet and dared to imagine victory. Then I remembered that the vacuum bag wasn’t inside the Shop-Vac, because someone had borrowed the monster to vacuum water. Oh God, I would have to open it.
I ripped off its top and cleaned its insides, all the while afraid it would regain consciousness before the operation was complete, and go all Doctor Octopus on my ass. All I needed to do was slip the bag hole frame thing into a slot where the hose meets the Shop-Vac torso and I would be done. But I couldn’t quite get it to fit. I tried once, twice, three times. It looked so simple, but somehow the Shop-Vac found a way to resist. I tried a 25th time, then a 26th.
After approximately the 50th unsuccessful attempt, and after a hole formed in the only vacuum bag I possessed, things went dark. I beat the Shop-Vac to death on the concrete floor, then picked up the pieces and put them in a pile as a warning to the other tools. (+10)
The broom and dustpan decided to give me no resistance.