Saturday, March 6, 2010

It was an electric boogaloo

March 6, 2010

Do you ever look around your house at all the projects that need doing, and wish your significant other was handy? I know Beth does. It's not that I have never done anything around the house, but you can certainly tell which projects were done by a professional, and which ones by me.

The toe strips in our living an dining rooms that are separating from the wall and weren't measured very well-yeah, me.

The "extra" holes in the wall behind wall hangings from where my measurements were a bit off the first time-yeah, me.

The electric outlets that are upside down compared to the rest of the house-yeah, me.

The light switch that does nothing, while the one on the back porch turns on the dishwasher-only a slight exaggeration.

However, I have had some successes.

I fixed a toilet so it stopped running all the time by replacing its innards. Still works today.

I am a decent painter-the wall kind, not the Picasso kind.

I have changed many an outlet or light switch from the two hole kind to the three hole kind (was that too technical?) without getting culture shocked.

Quick funny story though. I did not learn any electrical/handyman type stuff from my father. If our home ever needed anything repaired, we just moved. It is difficult to repair anything with a smoke in one hand and a highball in the other. I think a beer makes it okay, but highballs come in glasses, not aluminum cans. Anyway, so I learned how to change outlets when we moved into our first house. I am smart enough to notice how things are wired when I pull them out of the wall and try to rewire it the same way when I put it back in. While my success rate is not 100%, I am tracking around 90%.

So this one time, my father-in-law and I were replacing a chandelier. We had already replaced a ceiling light in the hallway, and Beth came home from shopping and was excited that it was up and looked semi-normal. She had been looking for one that did not look like a big boob on our ceiling, and had succeeded. So Beth turned on the light switch for the hall light and remarked at how great it looked lit up. As Charlie and I were about to rewire the chandelier, it dawned on us that both lights were on the same breaker. Fortunately, we figured this out before either of us flew across the room or looked like Albert Einstein. I think we made it through all the projects with no injuries. That, to me, is a victory.

So why all this handyman talk? Well, we had a light switch that broke. It had nothing to do with my installation, but somehow Beth had broken the actual toggle doohickey away from the rest of the switch. Fortunately, it was in the on position, otherwise, we would have had to apply our deoderant in the dark.

So it came time to change out said switch and I asked CJ to help. He agreed, and I handed him the screwdriver. I told him this project was his, and I would coach him through it. Excited was he.

He found the right breaker, he unscrewed, he rewired, he screwed back in, he broke nothing, and the light came on. Sure, the first time all we had to do was flip one switch and both the light and fan came on, but we started over and got it right the second time. It turned out terrific. The only thing CJ did not do correctly was curse like a sailor whenever he would drop a screw. He may have learned that part better had he learned the task from his grand dads. "Well H***", or simply "*%#& a duck" were some standards from our dads.

Nonetheless, I was a proud papa and he was pretty proud of himself as well. Little does he know, my plans to send him to trade school instead of college are underway. Someday, we will need to sell this house and I need some cheap labor. Sure, he should be destined for a college education and may have the smarts to cure cancer, but this house really needs some drywall work and the kitchen appliances replaced. Do you think he will cut me a deal?

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