Over the years I’ve developed into an acceptable home handyman. When I do projects around the house, I work at about 50-percent the speed of most other guys, so you could say I’m a half-fast handyman. (And say it quickly for the full effect.)
I’m pretty good with wood. I can cut boards and nail them together. Of course, if you want the boards to be cut to the exact right length and the nails to hold them in an exact level position, well, why do you think there are professional builders listed in the Yellow Pages? But if you’re just looking for, say, a half-fast shelf to put in the garage, I’m your man.
I’m also pretty good with electrical things. By electrical things, I don’t mean the wires or fixtures in the house which carry 110 volts of current — that stuff can kill you!
By electrical things, I mean connecting a DVD player to the TV, or hooking up the speakers to a stereo system. I’m an old pro at wiring up stereo systems, going back to the late-1970s in college. My roommate and I decided to combine our individual stereo components into one big honking system, which made our dorm room the loudest location in central Pennsylvania. Whenever we cranked up Springsteen’s “Born to Run,” the ground shook on campus and the lights dimmed as far away as Scranton. (This probably explains why my most frequent comment to my wife nowadays is, “Huh? Whudja say?”)
If you want me to get involved with any of the more exotic electrical things — like running wiring in the walls, installing a new light fixture, or plugging in an extension cord — well, why do you think there are professional electricians listed in the Yellow Pages?
There is one area in the home handyman world that I refuse to touch: plumbing. Plumbing is even worse than high voltage electrical things. The worst that can happen when an electrical project goes awry is that it can kill you. But it’s much worse when a plumbing project goes awry. It will torture you forever.
The problem with plumbing is the water. If plumbing projects did not involve water, then I wouldn’t mind doing them. But I have some very finicky family members, who shall remain nameless, and they insist we have running water in the house. So unfortunately, that means our plumbing projects must involve water.
If a woodworking project fails and the shelf collapses in a big heap, that’s it. It’s done. You can then either pick up the pieces and start over, or throw a tarp over it and pretend it never happened.
If an electrical project fails, the TV or DVD player in question gives off a few sparks as its internal circuit boards are ruined, and that’s it. It’s done. You can then either announce to the family that we’ve been watching too much television anyway, or, if it’s a high voltage situation, throw a tarp over my charred body and pretend it never happened.
But when plumbing projects fail, you can’t just throw a tarp over it and pretend it never happened. This is because failed plumbing projects always result in gallons and gallons of water spewing all over the house. And no matter how good you are at pretending certain things never happened, wading through knee-deep water in the kitchen is really hard not to notice.
So, when it comes to plumbing projects, I always call a professional. I found a great plumber in the Yellow Pages a few years ago. And the only thing half-fast about him is the view he flashes us when he bends over to work under the kitchen sink.