A Grin at the End: To me, DIY is a four-letter word

March 2010 Posted in Columnists & Opinion

By Carl SampsonCarl Sampson

As if I needed another reminder of my inadequacies, a recent trip to the hardware store provided a whole new shopping basket full.

My wife and I have been fixing up the mansion lately — anyone want to buy a slightly downsized version of the Hearst Castle? — and that has meant one thing for me.

Hell — er, I mean, heck.

I have often stated that I’m against capital punishment. Instead, I would sentence society’s worst miscreants to a life of home improvement projects. Believe me, they would beg for mercy.

I know I would.

On my list of things I like to do, home improvement projects rate just below having my teeth drilled with a pneumatic jackhammer and just above undergoing a colonoscopy without the anesthesia.

So I’m cruising the hardware store in search of a new faucet. It’s not that our old faucet didn’t work; it just wasn’t pretty. And, of course, pretty reigns when it comes to selling a house. So I found a faucet that would suit our needs and was checking out the box on the off chance of finding some directions, or encouragement, or both.

Right above the directions on the box was an estimate of how long replacing a faucet should take. It was based on the installer’s skill level and went something like this:

Expert: 20 minutes.

Novice: 1 hour.

Me: Three days.

Actually, the three days didn’t refer to the installation. That was pretty easy. The three days referred to stopping the leaks. Every time I tightened something I managed to shear off a bolt or crack a retaining ring.

After replacing the bolts, retaining rings and all of the other hardware, I finally declared victory in Operation Faucet and moved on to Operation Storm Doors.

This would be a cinch, I figured, because I had actually done it before.

I was wrong. I managed to order two different brands of storm doors, each with a unique twist.

For one, the key part of the instructions was in Spanish and French. Not English, just Spanish and French.

Luckily, my wife speaks French, or else I’d still be sitting there scratching my head and speaking another language composed primarily of four-letter words.

The instructions for the other door were in English, thank goodness, but several key steps were completely missing. I suppose the guy in China or India or Trashcanistan who wrote those instructions thought it would be fun to trick those crazy Americans by messing with the instructions.

At any rate, what should have been a two-hour job ended up being a one-week job, as I shuttled back and forth to the store inspecting how the display door was installed.

I have finally figured out the best way to do home improvements. It goes something like this:

1. Open the box.

2. Find the instructions. Wad them up and throw them in the recycling basket.

3. Call someone who knows how to do the job.

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