Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Heads or Tails #66 -- anything you can do with your hands

Today's Heads or Tails is to write about anything you can do with your hands. Huh? What do you think I type with -- my elbows?!?

Actually, come to think of it, in my case, but for the miracle of spell check (right behind indoor plumbing on my list of the Greatest Inventions of Modern Man) that might not be a bad guess. But enough of this frivolity. Barb has made a serious assignment and I'm sure nearly all the Heads or Tailers will write about their skill at this craft or another.

Well, not me, brother.

If I was good with my hands, I might have found honest work. Instead, I became a lawyer.

Allow me to illustrate with a couple of well-chosen anecdotes from my distant past... and one very recent anecdote....

In our very progressive junior high, boys still took shop; girls took home ec. It was the late 60s. Things have changed, just a bit, since then.

Not only was ours a progressive junior high, it was located in a pretty well off suburban school district. Shop class, then, meant access to all sorts of tools I would not see again until I got involved in product liability defense. We were to learn about simple tools first, and then the more involved ones. With these tools, after first demonstrating an understanding of basic safety techniques, the students were permitted -- were expected -- to make elaborate creations. Scale models of the Taj Majhal. End tables you'd be proud to display in your living room. I particularly liked the Mount Rushmore-like carving that one kid made. He substituted his face for Theodore Roosevelt's.

At the beginning of the semester, my shop teacher was a vigorous man, with a full head of dark hair. By the end of the semester, he was withered and stooped, and nearly bald. There were a few remaining strands of white hair. Most of the rest had been pulled out. I, like my classmates, had started with simple tools -- the hammer and screwdriver. Unlike my classmates, I never progressed beyond them. I labored mightily and brought forth a three-shelf bookshelf, perhaps four feet tall. Half the forests of Oregon were consumed for this purpose. The shop teacher labeled me his "disaster." And rightly so.

* * * * * *
Flash forward now to my young married days -- over 20 years ago. Long Suffering Spouse and I were proud of our first home. There was work to be done, but as long as painting was all that was required, I held my own.

But one day the sink began to leak. Examination confirmed that the J-pipe, underneath the sink, had sprung a leak. Long Suffering Spouse expected me to make the repairs.

And, oh how I tried.

I spent the weekend on the project. I changed out the pipe. I did the best I could do.

But the pipe soon leaked worse than ever.

Long Suffering Spouse called a plumber. He was not impressed, it turns out, by my use of approximately one ton of plumbing putty around the joints -- although, in my defense, I would say it probably took the water at least 48 hours to seep through it all.

"Lady," he asked, "who did this?"

"My husband."

"Oh," said the plumber, trying to figure out a way to be diplomatic about it. "What does he do for a living?"

"He's a lawyer."

"I sure hope he's a better lawyer than he is a plumber, lady."

* * * * * *
We flash forward again, now, to just a week or so ago. Oldest Son now has his own apartment and, with the onset of winter, he's looking for ways to conserve heat. He had a hardware question.

By chance, I answered the phone when he called.

"Put Mom on the line," he insisted.


Barb said...

Put Mom on the line. Hahahaa!!!!

Did the others in your shop class really make things worthy of being displayed/used in their homes? Maybe your memory of their creations has dimmed with the passage of time?

I had brothers that took shop and I remember what they brought home. Things that sat out because parents are polite and kind to their children. Then after a respectable amount of time, the things are put away.. to be kept "safe." ;)

Kacey said...

My dad was a lawyer and he taught English, World History and Economics in a high school, but he knew everything about tools and such. He actually built our home with his own hands and felled the trees on the land. His legal work was in his office at home in the evenings. I believe the ability to do things with your hands is a God given gift...He gave you the gift of writing. We, your readers, are thankful for your gift! As to household repairs.....Hire it done, before you ruin the house or kill yourself.

NoBS said...

I was the only girl in shop class in the '70's. Home Ec just didn't work out for me.

I have, literally, burned a boiling egg. Sad but true!

Jean-Luc Picard said...

That was a good comment about the lawyer.

Shel said...

Erm. I hate to admit it, but I made a cedar chest in shop class (In 1981 they were a bit more lenient about who they let in shop classes, hehe), that was good enough to display. I don't do plumbing, though.

Steve Skinner said...

I loved your tale of plumbing jobs gone bad. Every time I tackle a plumbing job at home I am reminded why a plumber is so well paid! My cousin was a plumber and he told me the three rules of plumbing are as follows: hot water on the left, cold water on the right, and if you bite your finger nails, you will quit that addiction in less than a week!

Dave said...

I knew my limitations at an early age, I took the typing class with the other thirty students, all girls. Not a bad decision on several levels.