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Pique n' your interest

Jack of no trades



"We don’t need another young person spending four years and going $40,000 into debt to end up serving lattes. What we need are people who earn while they learn." – Michael Geoghegan, president, B.C. Construction Association

Our kitchen faucet is leaking.

I put in a new washer and a new O-ring and that seems to work fine as long as you don’t actually touch the tap while you’re running the water. If you do, a steam of water shoots up and over the bar into the dining area, which also happens to be where my roommates’ computer sits. There have been some close calls.

We’ve ordered some parts for it, but if that doesn’t do the job we’ll likely have to replace the whole thing. A few cents worth of worn rubber will end up costing us about a hundred bucks. Still, it’s cheaper than a new computer.

Over the years, I’ve fixed washers and dryers, toaster ovens, and toilets. I’ve hung shelves, assembled furniture, repaired cars, painted houses, wired lights, replaced sockets, patched drywall, installed window panes and insulation.

At no point did I ever know what I was doing. I learned on the job with a good deal of trial and error, and pools of my blood, sweat and tears. Ever spray foam insulation into your hair? Ever hit yourself in the forehead with the claw part of a hammer? It isn’t pretty.

I learned the game from the master, my father. My dad was a home improvement nut, one of those Tim-the-Tool-man-Taylor types who liked his tools to be big and motorized. We were the only family in urban Toronto to own a chainsaw, with a 30-inch bar no less.

My dad could almost fix almost anything, often risking his life in the process. His home improvement misadventures include super-gluing the leg of a broken china horse to his thumb, falling through the fibre-glass awning over our back porch, cutting his head open on a rusty nail in the garage, and scraping half the skin of his arm in an unfortunate stucco mishap.

My brother and I inherited his enthusiasm for do-it-yourself projects, but with far less skill. My dad fixed things because that’s what the man of the house did in those days. We do it to entertain ourselves, and to satisfy our curiosity.

We are painfully aware that we come from a generation that doesn’t know how to do anything meaningful. We don’t know how our cars work, or understand the plumbing in our homes. We don’t know the fine art of weather-stripping, or carpet tacking. We don’t know what the peen part of a ball-peen hammer is for. We can barely hammer nails in straight.

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