Desiring Life

Where have you been? Where are you going? And why?

Electrical Outlets, Dishwashers, and a Bathroom Light

Alternate titles:

The Initiation of a Handymanwannabe


$*!#s, %*@%s, and D*$ its

Upon return from the northwest, the “summer of the house”, as my wife cutely labeled it, officially began. We moved into our home ten months ago, and with cancer surgery and work occurring almost simultaneously, the honey-do-list took a backseat. Until this June and July, that is, when I failed miserably at generating enough conflicts to continue the procrastination.

When it comes to confidence in home repair, I would rate myself somewhere between a seven or an eight. Did I mention the scale is between zero and one-hundred? When something breaks, I do my best impression of trouble shooting before Googling a handyman. I attempt to explain what won’t work, hoping my shame remains concealed amidst a front of assurance. And then there’s the times when my wife does the explaining. I either sneak off to the other room or jab away on the computer, my face hidden as if something important requires my expertise. Or, I stand there harboring anger at her for stealing my voice.

The first task: electrical outlets. The previous owner painted over twenty-two outlets. Twenty-two. So for the last year, we’ve lived in rooms painted one color with the outlets and light-switches painted another. Up to this point in my life, I’d only changed two outlets, both helping Clint move in…and they both took about ninety minutes apiece. As I stood in the ninety degree house, beads of sweat trickled down my back as they dripped (I forgot to include a broken air conditioner in the title). I stared at the first outlet, much like a climber at the base camp of Everest. Even after ten months, I still aspired to avoid changing the dam things. A light bulb illuminated just over my head. Why not simply use paint remover on the old ones?

Brilliant, or so I thought. Off I went off to my new second abode, The Home Depot. This process worked well, applying and scratching, applying and scratching, applying and scratching…until Shannon braced herself and informed me that we needed white outlets rather than the tan outlets. With Plan A terminated, Everest lay before me. I grabbed my pick axe and began the ascent. And guess what? The Jedi became a Master. Ninety minutes evolved into sixty and then into thirty, and finally into fifteen. I now laugh in the face of unchanged outlets.

But this was just the beginning.

Things simply break in a sixty-year-old home, but all at the same time? I already told you about the AC. The dishwasher and the bathroom light/fan needed replacing. The sinks clogged and drained ever so slowly. I felt much like a climber that reaches the peak only to find it isn’t the peak, but a chance to catch his breath.

In an effort to troubleshoot the AC problem, Steve taught me to install a thermostat without the directions. That didn’t fix the problem, but resulted in a few laughs and a Kroger run for Gatorade. I wish I could take credit for the return of cool air, but that was remedied by a professional. The dishwasher, too, needed an expert. God used this in the process, too, but that’s worth another blog.

The dog days of the fix-it summer dragged on, but with much less drag than expected. I began to look forward to each new project. The duty that I’d run and hid from over the last year was more about fear of inability than laziness. And as my chest began to swell, I started keeping a list of those God was using in the process of deeper initiation. Darrell, Steve, Jeff, Michelle, and Bill…The learning process came through them.

And then the kicker that launched me off the peak…I fixed one of the two congested sinks. The other required the fine folks of Roto-Rooter. As Bob entered the house, I immediately jumped into the trouble shooting I’d already done in failed attempts. He listened intently and then hauled off the truck the biggest plumbing snake I’d ever seen. I left him to work. Upon completing the job, he called me over. The sink indeed required an expert, and all was solved, for now. Bob began pointing out which parts would be the next to rupture. But rather than pulling the typical business maneuver of giving me his number, he showed me what I’d need and how to do it.

“You won’t need to call anyone,” he simply said, “You seem pretty handy.”


One response to “Electrical Outlets, Dishwashers, and a Bathroom Light

  1. Rich July 21, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    DUDE!! you made it! Congrats! now comes the double curse of being called “handy”. your honey-do list got bigger and more complicated… ever built a deck? how about an atrium? Things to look forward to. Dont worry, when Shannon wants you to hand make a new toilet, I will lend you my kiln.

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