I’m Not Handy

Listen up, I am not handy. I break things. I have a lot of respect for those who are mechanically inclined, because I readily admit that I am not one of them. You can take my word on that.

Just this afternoon I wanted to take care of an issue I’ve been having with the stereo on Miss Scarlett, my Victory Vision Tour motorcycle. After first removing a few parts so as to gain access to the speakers inside the front fairing, I reached inside in order to gauge how much room I had to work with. In a fraction of the time it takes to yell, “Don’t do that,” I had impaled my left index finger on a sharp, pointy screw that quickly found its way into the space between my finger and the side of my fingernail, separating the two just enough to draw blood and cause so much pain that the torrent of words spewing forth from my mouth made even me blush. I eventually got the job done, but it easily took four times longer than it would have taken somebody who is handy and knows what they’re doing. That’s just how it is when one is mechanically challenged.

I bought my first house in 1986, at the height of a new do-it-yourself movement. After closing, our realtor gave us a ceiling fan in a box. I wanted so badly to say, “I don’t suppose some little guy is going to jump out of that box and install the fan for us.” but all I could manage was, “Thank you.” A few days later, I was installing our new ceiling fan.

After reading and rereading the instructions, which had apparently been written by somebody whose first language was not English, I was ready to begin. Step one involved turning off the electricity to the ceiling lamp that was about to be replaced with our new fan/lamp combination. I went into the basement and began removing fuses until my wife announced that the appropriate room upstairs had gone dark. Easy!

Then I disassembled the existing ceiling lamp and prepared to make my new connections. One of the first things I connected was my right hand with a bit of exposed wiring that happened to still be live. “AAAAAAAAIIIIII!” I yelped as I withdrew my hand and waited for my hair to lay down again.

My wife came around the corner and inquired, “Something wrong?”

“There’s still electricity in that box.”

“I thought you turned it off.”

“Me, too.”

Without prolonging the conversation, I went back into the basement and pulled the main, effectively shutting off the juice to the entire house. Then I went back upstairs, where the interrogation continued.

“The TV went off.”

“I know. I pulled the main. I’ll turn the juice back on as soon as I finish making these connections.” You have no idea how gingerly I reached back into that junction box.

“Maybe you should wait until morning. It’s gonna’ start getting dark soon.”

“Nah, this’ll only take a few minutes.”

“But what about the food in the refrigerator?”

“Just don’t open it! This won’t take long.”

Karen had begun setting out candles shortly before sunset, as I positioned our camping lantern on the stepladder beneath my work space. Neither of us said a word.

After another hour or so, I had everything back together and returned power to the house. Miracle of miracles, the fan and light worked exactly as expected. I gathered up my tools and ladder and put them all away as Karen went about extinguishing her candles.

There is a bright side to the story, though. Nobody ever asked me to install a ceiling fan again.


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