I started using my Dad’s tools when I was five years old. He’d say I used his hammer and a screw driver to tear things apart. I didn’t know any better.
I took a lot of things apart. Nuts, bolts, screws and springs were everywhere.
I didn’t always put that stuff back together again.
The years passed, I grew up a bit. I kept taking stuff apart. I found his pliers, his pipe wrench and his do-all hand tool: a pair of vice-grips. I kept them in a cardboard box. It was a start.
I had my own collection of tools.
By age seven, I took the training wheels off my bike, then the front fender and the chain guard. A few days later, you guess it, I figured out how to remove the rear fender.
Somewhere along the way, I added a basket on the front.
Suddenly, I was the neighborhood mechanic. My Dad had the tools and the garage, I had the greasy fingernails and every once in a while a busted knuckle. I still left nuts, bolts, screws and springs everywhere.
I bought an old car. One hundred dollars cash. It needed oil by the time I got home. It needed brakes. It needed a new battery. It needed a piece of plastic so I could shift from first gear to second gear. That was important every time I stopped.
I upgraded. Bought a newer old car. Two hundred dollars. I had to finance the second hundred. It took me three months to pay off my debt. It needed a transmission. Biggest mechanical job in my life. Half a day. Went on a date that night. Shifting gears as smooth as can be.
I didn’t get all the grease from under my fingernails. She never went out with me again. Duh?
I graduated high school. My Dad gave me a set of professional grade sockets and a ratchet. I had a small tool box. A few other tools I had collected on the way to being an adult. I was proud. They were mine. I’d keep them forever.
Some idiot stole them in New Orleans.
I bought some more. That day, I found out exactly how much my father paid for the tools he gave me.
Today, my sons laugh at me when they see my tools. I’ve collected a lot more than I’ll ever use. I’ve got sockets and ratchets. I’ve got pliers and adjustable wrenches. I’ve got screw drivers for every kind of screw ever made. I’ve got a box full of hammers. I bought a big gray vice. I have a workbench.
I still take things apart that I can’t repair.
I like tools that say “Made in the U.S.A.” Somebody in Ohio made them. Or New York. Or Vermont. They didn’t come from a sweat shop in China or Taiwan.
They’ll last a lot longer than I’ll last.
If some idiot steals them in the middle of the night, he’ll never wear them out. The best he can do is sell them for a couple of dollars. Maybe a real mechanic will buy them from the pawn shop.
I hope they tighten and loosen and fix things people take apart for another fifty years.
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