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.


Please feel free to share.  I encourage and welcome your comments and thoughts.  Contact Mike Windham at amwindham100@gmail.com.  Please follow my blog at mikewindham.com.

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