The Idle American

Who you gonna call?

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Not so many years ago, when children were asked to do household chores, they might register resistance with beginning letters of four words--“TNMJ.” (That’s Not My Job.)

Such requests made these days might just as well be directed to telephone poles, since most children have “buds” in their ears, choosing to listen to sounds more soothing or entertaining than parental verbiage.

But wait. The point of this piece is for yours truly, and for other men who realize that when DIY (Do It Yourself) comes up in conversations, we’re better off to respond with “TNMJ.” The plea this day is for “unhandy” men (like me) to put “opportunities” for DIY aside. Call someone, maybe even ABS (Anyone But Self).

We gulp down the “Kool-Aid” from folks with something to sell. They fool us, saying we need You Tube, a few tools and an hour or so for most repairs.

Horse feathers. After all, the song reminds us of summertime, when the living is easy, etc. Mount a project, and life hardens.

We take on projects that “encouragers” say any child can do. Alas, at this point we should pinch ourselves, thus reminded--yet again--that money, time and frustration can be saved by CALLING A PROFESSIONAL.

We need only recall “DIY blunders” of the past to serve as warnings to “steer clear.” We should think of DIY “opportunities” as buoys--bobbing in shallow water--warning us of jagged edges nearby that can pull us down.

Painful as it is to admit, I recall numerous misadventures, one of attempting to increase the tension mechanism of our garage door. I over-tightened it, and it took three people to “hold it down” until the tension could be disengaged. (Let fly, and the double door might have sailed a half-block down the street.)

Then there’s the lost weekend given to laying brick columns for installation of a wrought iron gate. It worked--somewhat--and I thought the leaning columns gave our property “character.” (If I’d just known to “vinegar wash” mortar from my hands properly, there’d have been fewer blisters.)

Somehow, we think that later in life we can do better with “DIY.” Again, don’t drink the Kool-Aid.

Earlier this year, I noticed the water in the commode in our second bathroom didn’t always turn off without a “jiggle.”

Stupid me! I invested several hours, considerable cash and much anguish, believing the guy at the hardware store who said all the new “innards” would work fine my commode tank. Time will tell if this is correct; a new “outard” part absolutely does not. The dratted flush handle is several silly millimeters too, uh, thick--sticking out too far from the tank.

We were away 10 days of the billing period, but a springtime water bill was $322, and the next one, not much better. Plumbers, sprinkler system people and City of Burleson water department folks tried to help.

They found nothing wrong. (Hint: The commode lid wasn’t “up.”)

That’s when I called the Mansfield plumbing people--almost tearfully--to share my plight. The lady soothed, explaining--before I could--what likely had gone wrong. “I’m guessing the raised commode lid prevents the flushing handle from resting against the tank,” she purred. “Often, the wrong handle is unable to shut off the supply, and the water continues to run.”

My blood pressure shot skyward. No one had considered the possibility of the problem she immediately solved.

She lectured me about the importance of getting the RIGHT parts, and competence of the person installing them. “There’s no law against some sales guy saying, ‘Yeah, these parts will fit fine’.”

Much now is right with the world. A son-in-law who can fix anything will be in town soon. He’ll install genuine Mansfield parts. In the meantime, the commode will be turned off. Now, my wife will turn on the sprinkler system again. The lawn is looking a bit brown.

Contact Don by email: newbury@speakerdoc.com or phone: 817-447-3872. Website: www.speakerdoc.com.

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