Scrap­ing by

Life changes and the need for dif­fer­ent tools

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - EDITORIAL PAGE - Gary Smith Gary Smith is a re­cov­er­ing jour­nal­ist liv­ing in Rogers.

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 twothirds 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.

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