Now, if you are a man or a woman who wields hand tools with ease, at this point you have two choice: a) continue reading but only if you’re not known for snorting liquids through your nose at inopportune times and rolling your eyes, or b) bypass this read altogether. Really. I mean it. For the rest of you, especially women who haven’t ever really spent time with hand tools, this is written for you.
In my attempt to store my stuff in some place other than my living space, I researched the options available. Those nifty U-Store places seem to be on every corner these days, and seemed like a good bet. I went hunting based on logistics. The closer to me the more liable it is that I will haul stuff there, and return there to go through it. I soon found out that the cheapest and smallest unit in close proximity was right at sixty dollars a month. Huh? Three hundred bucks a year to store stuff? What if I lost my job and couldn’t pay the storage fees? At that moment I seriously thought of just chunking it all, because although I’ve not done an item by item cost inventory, I’m pretty certain that the actual cost of the stuff I’m storing might not exceed that. The emotional value of some things though, cannot be measured by dollars. So I bought deck boxes using the following logic. The stuff would be right here, so sorting through it, getting to it, and keeping an eye on it, would all be easier and no additional gas expenditure to get to it. I spent less than one year of storage fees, and my current plan is to be here at least two and a half more years. Even if I buy one more, I’m still far ahead outlay wise. I can’t ‘lose’ it because I don’t have money this month in case of a term of unemployment. And when I move, I can either sell them to recoup some of the expense, or take them with me to where I am going next. It seems quite logical and cost-effective, so I ordered them.
One arrived on Friday. I hauled it around to my patio from the breezeway where Brown dropped it off. Today I put it together. I’ve assembled fans, furniture – stuff like that before. This is a large rectangular box, how hard could it be? In actuality, not terribly difficult – if you have the required stick figure people listed on the nearly all pictorial instructions. Yep, there were two little stick people. And one of me. The dog snoozed happily in his bed quite oblivious to the two-stick-people conundrum I faced. I thought of calling a friend, but she has family up for the holidays and lives over twenty minutes away. Nix. Checked to see if the upstairs renter might be home today. Nope. Well, I will not be daunted by two stick figures, no sirree. (And to be honest, I think one is to laugh at you while the other person does the actual work, just a thought).
Nonplussed by the two-stick-figure requirements listed, I moved on to the tools list. Screwdriver. Check. Socket wrench. Check. Regular wrench. Ooops. Nope, don’t have one of those. But I do have an adjustable wrench, so quasi-check. Safety glasses. What? It’s a big plastic box. Why would I need safety glasses? (I didn’t, but reading glasses count right?) Required tools checklist met, I went down through the “Contents of box” list for the assorted nuts, bolts, screws and gas-filled hinges. Yay! It is all here.
Now, I’ve owned a socket wrench set for many years, courtesy of a nice couple in Kentucky who presented it to me as a house-warming gift. I’ve never used it. I think I touched it once when I opened it. Since then, it dutifully rides around in the car emergency box, traveling all over with me. I also have a socket and allen wrench set that I inherited from my husband’s tools. Never touched that one either. It lives on a shelf inside. I have well-traveled tools, lets just say that. Like a surgeon, I assembled my tools on a towel, along with the hardware that shipped. I was ready!
Except, well, I didn’t know how a socket wrench works. And the socket wrench was the thing that I needed most. It took me a bit to figure out what the little flippy switch on the bottom did (also a knob thing on the other wrench). It also took me a while to figure out which end was the ‘socket’ and which end went on the actual wrench. I needed the adapter for one part of it as well (which is what confused me about which end was the socket – neither end fit!) About then, I felt really good. I’m sure there are YT videos on ‘how to use a socket wrench’ (yep, just checked, lol!). But I was outside and wanting to finish before daylight ended. Putting the panels together had been a snap, literally. The only real challenge was the lid – as this is where the two people thing would be real handy. While trying to true up the hinges, the lid kept falling on my head, or falling backwards. Instead, the vacuum, a stool and some deck chairs were my second person. I ran into a design flaw in the lid though. On one side, using the socket wrench was fine – just enough clearance to get in there and tighten things up. But on the other side? Um. No. The well in the plastic form was defective or something, and the socket wrench with adapter on it did not fit in there. I was flummoxed for a bit. Then I figured out that my regular adjustable wrench would fit in the space, woohoo! While it was much slower going than the socket wrench, it did the job just fine, and I was quite proud of myself for coming up with a way to finish the job when the designated tools didn’t work in the space. The hinges were a motha. Everything was pictures, and you got one line per hinge – “The hinge goes together this way for the left side of the lid.” That was it. Is that the left side once the lid is ON, or, the left side while I have it upside down and working on it? I finally went with how the lid was while I was working on it and that worked. Overall, it took me right at two hours to assemble, including three texts to my brother, two texts from kids that their dog was having puppies, and one phone call. This probably takes someone with tool knowledge about thirty minutes of work. But *I DID IT*! For you seasoned tool users out there who don’t understand my sense of giddy accomplishment, just, go get another beer or flip through some TV channels, okay 😀
A few of you are probably shuddering in horror thinking “She can’t use a socket wrench and she’s going to tackle building and living in the country alone?” Yes, I know. I don’t have a lot of fear (or sometimes, good sense!) I may have solved my zero exposure to building issue though. We just started a crew at work that does Habitat for Humanity building, and I am going to join. I figure that will give me exposure to terms and tools, allow me to hang around others and eavesdrop and allow me to ask questions. Plus, I’ll get to see houses go up from foundation to roof, something I’ve never seen up close. And the biggest win is that I’ll be helping others less fortunate than I am – really, what could be better than that?!? I really miss the guy that I liked about now, as he knew all of this stuff and has lots of experience. He is an excellent resource. But since he’s not speaking to me, that’s not an option. Kind of like using the adjustable wrench when the socket wrench was called for, this is my work around plan. In the end, I may order a pre-fab shell or such, and just have to do the finish work, hiring out the electrical and plumbing. I’d like to learn enough to at least build a shed, a root cellar and a chicken coop for the future though, and two years working with Habitat should provide a good foundation.
It is a small accomplishment, this is true. But don’t small accomplishments lay the groundwork for larger ones? Every time that I solve a problem, or do something new that I’ve never done before, my confidence grows. With that too, comes an awareness of how little I know about many things. I have a lot to learn. Isn’t that life’s goal, to learn? To be better? I hope to always be learning and growing towards a better, well-rounded person. Including one that knows her way around a tool box. 🙂 Maybe even one like this…
And no post would be complete without a quote, so here is mine for today.
Socket wrench Sally signing off…