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Gary Smith: Scraping by

Life changes and the need for different tools

In the long list of basically useless tools I've bought over the years, I may have topped myself over the weekend. I acquired a paint scraper.

Expecting something a little grander, weren't you?

OK, OK, so just because something isn't break-the-bank expensive doesn't mean it's any less utterly useless in the long run. And the fact it's not even the most expensive utterly useless thing I have (now where is that pretty much deaf and soon to be incontinent Pomeranian, anyway? Or should I just follow the puddles?) doesn't detract from the fact that it was, as a purchase, without merit.

No, my outrage revolves around the fact that the newly acquired and soon to be forgotten paint scraper is the very embodiment of roughly two-thirds of the tools in my tool bags. "Bags?" you say. Yes, more on that later.

You see, the paint scraper, while not particularly expensive, is absolutely a one-hit wonder. There is literally not another use in the wide, wide world for this thing, except to scrape stuff off other stuff. Which there is about a zero percent chance I'm ever going to do again.

But that's what happens. It's all a plot concocted by the Shadowy Home Repair-Industrial Complex. First they put happy smiling people like Chip and Joanna (or those brothers I can't tell apart, which I think is the point) on TV.

Then they have them doing things like smashing cabinets with a sledgehammer and yelling "Demo Day!' (which you have to admit, looks pretty fun). And the next thing you know, you've convinced yourself that you, too, can do it yourself. Whatever "it" is.

The only problem is, well, you can't. Not without years of training, a firm plan and a collection of expensive tools purchased for just one tiny little aspect of whatever grand scheme you've come up with. And since you're not doing the first one and never had the second one, you fast forward right to the expensive tools.

And let's say, just for the sake of furthering the narrative, you actually get built, in some form or fashion, whatever it was you set out to build. Say the play yard actually stands (my first one did for about 20 years, which just goes to show that "more nails" is an answer, even if it might not be the correct one.).

And since the theory is that using something badly but frequently negates its expense (kind of the worst case study in depreciation ever), you are now officially sucked in. What's new? A picnic table? (done it). TV cables run through a hole you put in the back of a cabinet (and the wall, not on purpose, thanks)? Been there.

I now have two entire tool bags (told you we'd get here), full of, well, tools. One bag holds the stuff I think I'm going to need to do minor repairs around the house (a note: "minor" repairs are like "minor" surgery: things done to someone else.).

The second is full of all those tools that have no practical application, now that the need for a supersonic stud finder or a metric paint can opener have been exhausted, as well as a bunch of tools I don't think I need that I actually do, which throws a monkey wrench in my repair plans.

By the way, there's a monkey wrench in there, as well.

So now I can add to Bag B a barely used, hardly handy, looks-like-some-deranged-clown-carries-it tool I will never, ever, EVER use again.

And that's why I'm upset. Not because I bought the stupid thing to scrape stickers off the back of two of our cars.

I mean, that's fine. We didn't need them, anyway. When you leave for college, you don't want the back window of your SUV littered with reminders from your old high school. He doesn't go there anymore, doesn't play that sport anymore. He's going somewhere else now. He'll want space for the new stickers from the new life. And we don't want to pretend we're part of that old life any more.

I'm grumpy because I hate spending money on dumb tools. That's it. I'm standing in my driveway, watching little pieces of sticker that used to mean something and don't any more, flutter off. Which is sort of littering, which also makes me mad. Waste and pollution, all at the same time. No wonder I'm upset.

Stupid paint scraper.

Commentary on 08/11/2017

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