By Mike Gold, a retired entrepreneur "living the dream in the Pacific Northwest."
This column will firmly establish me as a curmudgeon. Why? Because I’m going to complain about all the labor saving devices we have in and around our homes.
Let’s start with the garage. We have a pegboard hanging on the wall inside our garage which holds all our tools. So what’s wrong with that? I’ll tell you what’s wrong. It has little holes into which you stick metal hooks which hold all the rakes, brooms, hand tools that we use in and around our house and yard.
Here’s what drives me crazy. No matter how careful you are in mounting the individual tools, after a while the board gets “full.” And it always seems that whichever tool you want to take down and use, there are always at least one or more other tools that overlap with the tool you want to take down.
So, two things happen. First, as you attempt to move the obstructing tools out of the way, that “top” tool falls down. And the little metal hook drops off the board and lands on the ground below the board. It always happens that the little metal hook lands in some “out-of-the-way” spot that is impossible to reach unless you move a dozen or more tools out of the way to clear the space such that you can reach the metal hook.
And I always find I manage to knock at least a couple of tools (which are leaning against the board – as I’m too lazy to bother to “hang” those particular tools up) over. Of course, one of the tools is a metal rake. Which I am almost guaranteed to step on the tongs – causing the rake to snap up to attention striking me in the face (just like in a Three Stooges movie).
Automatic can openers: We’ve owned at least a dozen of more of these devices. From the “simple” hand cranked ones to the elaborate fully electronic ones. No matter how many we’ve owned, after a while they stop working properly.
The “manual” ones always start out working perfectly. Then after a couple dozen cans, they lose their edge such that the top doesn’t fully get detached. So you have to “tug” on the top to detach it, guaranteeing you will spill any liquid inside the can all over yourself, the floor, and if you’re lucky, sometimes the window over the sink.
Next, the more elaborate fully electronic ones. They include a magnetic “top holder” that is supposed to hold the top after the can is fully open. Of course, my luck is, again, the top never fully separates. So then you have to rock the still attached top back and forth until it separates from the can - again - spilling any liquid inside over your clothes, the floor and - again - sometimes the window behind the sink.
Paint Cans: I have painted just about everything inside a house one can. Over the years, my wife has insisted that we hire professionals to do this job now. But from time to time, I still wind up painting or touching up some small job.
So, you buy a small can of paint (perhaps a quart). So you pry the top off with a flat blade screwdriver. Now you all are familiar with the problem of how to not spill paint over the side of the open can which can get very messy. So old painter’s trick. You take a hammer and a fairly thin nail and punch several holes in the inside lip of the can so the extra paint which drips off the paint brush will return into the can.
Problem (at least for me) is that as you “punch” the holes in the lip, the paint scatters everywhere – mostly on my clothes and face and hair. So even before I start the job, I look like a spotted leopard.
Last example, changing batteries in the smoke detectors: They say you should change out the 9-volt battery in each smoke detector every six months. Now as it happens, ours (we have 12 In our home!) run on house electricity – with the battery as only a backup. So it really does not need to be changed as it only uses the battery if and when the house electricity goes off.
Now our 12 detectors have at least four different ways the battery compartment opens. Some of them are very obvious. A nice neat slide cover that just moves to the side. The only issue is that you have to carefully note exactly how the replacement battery terminals are oriented. And of course you can’t see inside the detector.
So, I carefully note exactly where the two different terminals are oriented so I can slide the replacement in exactly the same way. Then there are the other “three” types of trap doors. Those clearly were designed by a seriously deranged engineer. Clearly someone whose ancestors designed the labyrinth inside the great pyramids. I have yet to figure out how to do a simple “slide out/slide in” replacement without demounting the entire detector.
I guess it’s time to hire a handyman to do all these simple household tasks. Otherwise I will continue to stumble and bumble my way through these daily trials and tribulations.