Thanks to Youtube, I’m ‘Mr. Fix-it’

The Catoosa County News - - EDITORIALS & OPINION -

Ioften joke with my sons about my tough child­hood. The punch line usu­ally in­volves some­thing about how we didn’t have a re­mote con­trol for the TV set. I would tell them, “If I wanted to watch an­other chan­nel, I had to GET UP from the sofa, and WALK to the tele­vi­sion to change chan­nels.” The joke, of course, is that com­pared to my par­ents, my life was very easy. They talked about rid­ing horses on un­paved trails, and work­ing in the fields from dusk ’til dawn. My sob story is about a re­mote con­trol.

Since my dad grew up poor, he learned how to fix just about any­thing. In the fam­ily store, I was as­signed counter duty while he was re­pair­ing the freezer, the truck, or what­ever had bro­ken down. He was also busy re­pair­ing cus­tomers’ chain­saws, chang­ing the oil in their cars, or help­ing them find the right plumb­ing and electrical parts.

He would then pass them off to me, where I punched the but­tons on the cash reg­is­ter, and gave cus­tomers the cor­rect change. To this day, I can cal­cu­late your change in a split sec­ond, but I’m not so handy with wrenches and pli­ers.

That is, un­til Youtube came along. In case you haven’t no­ticed, there are “HowTo” videos on just about any topic. Be­fore Youtube, I had to learn to tie a neck­tie on my own. My dad showed me a cou­ple of times, and with the help of a mir­ror, I fig­ured it out af­ter two thou­sand un­suc­cess­ful at­tempts. Now you can go on­line and be an ex­pert within five min­utes. In fact, you can learn 10 dif­fer­ent ways to tie a tie, which would be nine more than I have learned.

I bought a new weed-eater re­cently, which was more com­pli­cated than my old one. It came with a tiny, hard-to-read in­struc­tion man­ual. I took one look, and was more con­fused than ever. So rather than tear it up right out of the box, I went on Youtube, and some kind man had posted a video in­tended for a klutz like me. I was able to re-string the line with­out call­ing in pro­fes­sional help. Sud­denly I was an ex­pert.

How­ever, my fa­vorite Youtube les­son took place a few years ago on a Sun­day af­ter­noon. With­out get­ting into graphic de­tail, I will just say there was a toi­let mal­func­tion. It was the type of mishap my dad could have cleared up in­stantly. I would usu­ally called a plumber. Ex­cept on this day in ru­ral Alabama, there were no plumbers avail­able. I couldn’t even find a plunger in the house. Again, at the risk of giv­ing you too much in­for­ma­tion, just know this toi­let re­ally needed to flush, and fast.

I was fear­ing a mess of his­tor­i­cal pro­por­tions. My only shot was Youtube. So I looked up “how to un­clog a toi­let,” and sure enough, an­other nice man had posted a video. (Best I could tell, it was not the same gen­tle­man who taught me how to re­pair my weed-eater.) Thanks to some boil­ing wa­ter, and a lit­tle bit of dish soap, I was soon flushed with pride.

Where was Youtube all those times I strug­gled to as­sem­ble baby beds, chairs, ta­bles, desks, or any­thing that re­quired in­struc­tions and a screw­driver? Tasks that most hu­mans could com­plete in 30 min- utes tied me up for hours.

Most of­ten, these projects were com­pleted only be­cause

I had put so many things on back­wards, I would get lucky af­ter start­ing over a few times.

“There, that fi­nally looks right!” my wife would say. “Now, leave it alone and go watch TV.” I would gladly fol­low her or­der, be­cause the one thing I could op­er­ate was a re­mote con­trol.

Come to think of it, the TV set is my only field of ex­per­tise. I’ve never needed a YouTube video to hook up ca­ble, recorders, or speak­ers, or to nav­i­gate those tricky in­puts or chan­nel guides. In fact, my fa­ther-in­law was con­vinced I was a ge­nius be­cause I could al­ways solve his TV prob­lems. I drove to his home many times, eas­ing his frus­tra­tions in the mid­dle of a cru­cial golf tour­na­ment or ten­nis match. It was usu­ally a sim­ple fix: the VCR was set on the wrong chan­nel, or he had pushed a wrong but­ton. Keep in mind, this very ta­lented man had as­sem­bled many desks, chairs and ta­bles, but he strug­gled with the mys­ter­ies of his TV set.

When he passed away a few weeks ago, I re­al­ized he was the only per­son who ever called me a ge­nius. It was a huge ex­ag­ger­a­tion, but it al­ways made me smile. Think about that, the next time you see some­one who could use a kind word. A well-placed com­pli­ment will live for­ever in their heart.

David Car­roll, a Chat­tanooga news an­chor, can be con­tacted at 900 White­hall Road, Chat­tanooga, TN 37405 or

David Car­roll

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