How You Know You’re Not ‘Mr. Fix It’

Being able to fix anything in the house and know how to do it is one of the things that we all like to take pride in, whether we are male of female. From the man’s perspective, it has almost been a sort of manhood ritual to our father’s if we knew how to fix something, such as maybe rebuild the engine on our car and be able to do it without any assistance whatsoever. I know what this is like, as I am a maintenance supervisor’s son, and my father from the time that I was knee-high to a dandelion had tried everything that he could to make sure that I knew at least some of the basics when it came to home maintenance and some car care before I stretched my wings and made my way out into the real world.

I was taught such things as how to properly change light bulbs, what to do with a wobbly table (whether it be wood or metal). I was shown how to clean box fans, the parts needed for a proper wheelchair repair, the basic tools that were needed to have around the house and so forth. As I grew older, I took that knowledge and tucked it away in the back of my mind and took what I needed when I needed it. This is probably true for a lot of people, as home repair is probably the furthest thing from our minds as we walk through life. But, there are always occasions when we hope that what dear old Dad had imparted upon us would be of some use in the real world and that we would have the manlyness to take on whatever came at us. How little did we know that what all that it really was boiled down to was just how frustrated we could get when faced with a problem that seems unsolvable in our own minds as we look to the sink and wonder why the Dran-O has not taken effect to work out that stubborn clog.

But, we have been blessed and given ways out of these scenarios, such as hardware stores, home improvement centers, and television shows that have seen fit in training us in the art of home improvement and tool mastery. From creating tools that really look awesome in our garage after we purchase them all the way down to the latest fads in interior design. This, and all of the great wisdom that comes from people who host shows like ‘House Hunters’, ‘This Old House’, and heck , even ‘Home Improvement’. (It may be a comedy, but it still has merit). But, even with all of that know-how available to us and with commercial ads from outlets such as Home Depot and Loewe’s showing us that we have what it takes to ‘do it ourselves’, could it be possible that we are over-stepping our true understanding of home improvement?

Where we fail to realize just how much we can do usually happens when we see a problem that just looks too overwhelming for words. For example, the garage-door opener is not working for some strange reason, and we have to get out of the car in the middle of the rain to manually open it and then back the car into the garage. Sounds typical, right? But, what is not typical as to how some problems are approached, and this is when disaster can strike! In our ultimate quest to prove our know-how and show ourselves and others that we have what it takes to tackle any problem, what is the first thing we do? We take the thing apart!

Taking apart things is one of the most typical responses when it comes to finding out the problem with any appliance, but what we fail to realize is that once we take it apart, we may not be sure how to put it back together. Then, after we have examined every nut, bolt, screw, and washer to see if there are any discrepancies, what’s the next thing we do? We throw the thing away and call the garage door installer for an appointment. If you are a homeowner, you probably know all about this little venture, especially when the guy gets all finished and he has a big smile on his face after you have written him the check.

The biggest problem with home improvment is not only its cost, but also the misconceptions that we have what it takes to tackle the job. While we may have spent countless hours watching do-it-yourself shows and home improvement seminars, it does not exactly mean that we truly know what we are doing. Another thing that happens more often than not when it comes to home improvement is that when we take on a project where we do not look at the possibility of injury. People fall off ladders, accidentally cut power lines with the chainsaw while pruning the tree in the backyard, get your toes cut off from the lawnmower or are hit in the face with a rock while mowing the lawn because we did not see it there, and so on. So, with all of this, why do we still make the attempt?

There are many reasons that I could say, but they are far too numerous to get into here, and it would take me a year to get everything down. But, what is not seen by most is that there are a lot of us who just don’t know all that there is to know. This is also not taken into account by vendors and home improvement hosts, as their job is to do one thing…to make sure that they have imparted all this knowledge on to you just as your father did when you were young. Does it mean that we have instantly become masters of the art of electrical contracting? By all means, not even close!

In my opinion, I think that maybe what has been missed is the sense of self-bravado that we all get when it comes to fixing things. It has been a main staple in man’s past that if something is broken, we just have to know how to fix it. We can’t be the laughing stock of the neighborhood simply because we don’t know to use a screwdriver. So, we take it upon ourselves to know what to do, and if we get hurt doing it, it’ll be great to show our buddies the battle scars after the fact when we end up in the hospital because the weed whacker decided to have a malfunction. While this all may seem humorous, it is not. The real facts remain that most accidents do happen in the home. Whether it be a toy that was left out or the improper use of a tool, these types of incidents can be drastically avoided if a person just used good old-fashioned common sense.

What has to be remembered is that there is no shame in calling in a professional when we need to. This is why they are in the business: to help you with your home improvement needs. If you have a plumbing problem, you call the plumber. If you have an electrical problem, you call an electrician, and so forth. There are reasons that these men and women went to school to learn their trade, and one of them is to keep you from accidentally injuring yourself in the futile attempt to make yourself look good in the eyes of your peers.

On ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’ last season, there was a story of a man that was trying to rennovate an old house for his family that had been there since the early 1800’s, and he worked night and day with little sleep and not much to eat just because he wanted his family to have a home of their own. While admirable, the man was working in an enviornment that was filled with toxic mold spores in the basement that he had been breathing in for months. Soon, that man had ended up in the hospital due to the toxicity levels in his blood. When Ty Pennington arrived to say that they would take on the job of getting the house done, the man died just two days before the airing of the show, leaving his children fatherless and his wife a widow. Does this make home improvement sound like a breeze to you?

Before thinking that you have what it takes to be the ultimate ‘do-it-yourself’ master in your family, take into account what happened to the man above who thought the same thing. Just because you can fix a toilet, it does not mean that you are superhuman and can handle any job. If it looks too big and you know you can’t handle it, immediately call a professional. Professionals, by far, are a lot cheaper than medical bills…or funeral costs.

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