Be a handyman



When the going gets tough, the tough get tools.

Have you had a service call recently? It can cost 60 bucks just to have a guy come to the house to look at a hot water heater, let alone fix it. Multiply that by all the gadgets you have in the house and it can turn into a ton of cash. Well, now that the economy has tanked, perhaps it’s time to take matters into your own hands and save some money.

Maybe it’s time to become a handyman.

The problem with being a member of the military is that you are either gone or you work such long hours that you never get the chance to get really good at home maintenance. You have to rely on workmen to come to the house and fix things in your stead. But the day will come when you hang up the uniform for good, and the pressure to fix things yourself will become all-consuming. Just ask some retirees and they’ll tell you.

So you might as well get started.

The most important thing about being your own handyman is establishing the proper image. You’re going to be walking the aisles of various hardware stores, all of which are target-rich environments for real handymen, and they’ll eat you alive if you don’t blend in. Or worse, they’ll give you one of those sideways glances as if to say, “The art store is next door, pansie boy.” So dress the part. Wear a dirty tee-shirt and dirty blue jeans. Wear boots and a baseball cap. Stuff well-worn work gloves into your back pocket (drive over them with your minivan a few times if you have to, to get that broken-in look).

At some point you will have to actually talk to someone who understands home maintenance. The trick – and this is critical – is to let them do the talking. The more you say, the greater the odds he’ll see you as the fraud you are. A typical conversation should go like this:

A salesman approaches, eyeing you with a sideways glance…
“Can I help you?”
“I need to replace a light switch.”

That’s it. Say no more. From that point on, nod at everything he says. Take whatever he hands you. Wait until he leaves before you read the back of the package.

The actual handy work is a topic for another day. But for now, you’re ready to start down the long and unforgiving trail that leads to thumb injury, equipment malfunction and water leaks. The irony, of course, is that by the time you finish your project – after the false starts, errant hammer thrusts and short circuits, odds are you will have surpassed the cost of the original service charge. But that’s not important.

What’s important is that you are taking matters into your own hands. Unshackled by excuses and time constraints, you are free to explore the magical world of self-sufficiency. No longer forced to submit to the humiliation of having someone else do your work for you, you are free to see a problem and proudly declare, “I can fix that.”

Your self-confidence will ….

Oh, sorry. Gotta go. The repairman just drove up.


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