Always Remember You’re Unique — Just Like Everyone Else
Vol: 80 Issue: 9 Friday, May 9, 2008
Depending on the circumstances and whom you ask, either men and women are ‘equal’ (meaning the same) or they are as different as if one was from Mars and the other from Venus, so to speak.
I can’t speak with authority, (since I don’t know every man and woman on the planet), but I am inclined to believe, based on my admittedly limited experience, that men and women are part of the same species, but that is where the similarities end.
It is in this crazy belief that we’re all just alike that the trouble starts. It is much more realistic to keep in mind that you are unique, and so is everybody else is.
Last week, my wife instructed me to clean out the shed in our backyard. It was half-full of junk when we rented the place last August, and over the winter, we filled it the rest of the way with our own junk.
So by the time Gayle’s spring cleaning fit had led her out to the back yard, I had a pretty good idea of what was coming.
I wish I had snapped a picture – but even a picture couldn’t have done justice to what it looked like when I started.
It is a nice shed — evidently the previous tenant had abandoned finishing the inside, but it is a good, sturdy wood-frame building perhaps 16 by 12 feet in size with a good, high ten foot ceiling.
It needed a high ceiling for all the junk piled in there. There was a path about a foot wide that led from the front door to a bench along one wall, but standing in that aisle, you couldn’t see any of the other walls.
I tried to explain to Gayle that we didn’t need the shed cleaned out, since we didn’t have any more junk to store, but I’m a man and she isn’t, so my plea to her allegedly ‘logical’ side fell on deaf ears.
It took me the better part of the day to haul all that junk out of the shed and into the back yard. As I dug through it, I found some really, really good junk.
I found a bunch of old extension cords that had their plugs cut off; a sledgehammer with half a handle, a broken stereo that probably still had good speakers, and even a battery operated drill — if I could only find the charger.
And there were a bunch of old tarps, some big plastic drop cloths, a can of used paint rollers, a box of old shoes — “Hey! Some of this stuff is still good!” I told Gayle. “One of these shoes fits me!”
Gayle was unmoved by my discoveries. “What a slave driver,” I thought.
But as I worked, I began to notice something emerging from the chaos — inside the shed, under all that junk, I discovered a man-fort.
As the walls emerged, I found all kinds of handy hooks for my tools. That’s the thing about tools. If you can’t find a tool you need, you end up buying one to finish the job.
As we were cleaning out the RV, I discovered, for example, that I had six hammers. I had three drills. I had a couple of partial tool kits, each missing the same 1/2″ and 9/16″ sockets and wrenches.
There were assorted plastic toolboxes filled with tools I thought I had lost, bought new, and then found the old ones.
So, as I yanked old junk out, I started putting new junk in.
I started the project on Monday morning. By Tuesday afternoon, I had gotten in deep enough to discover four bags of unopened insulation in one corner.
The shed isn’t all that big and the insulation took up a lot of floor space and, hey — I think this was supposed to go in the shed.
So, I spent Tuesday and Wednesday insulating the shed. The insulation was lots easier to store stuffed between the joists of the wall than in big bags on the floor anyway.
Once I got the shed insulated, I realized there was a lot of empty wall space. And I’d carried out several piles of scrap wood that would work great for shelves. . . .
By Wednesday night, I had a workbench in the corner, shelves up along two walls, hammers hanging on the wall, screwdrivers lined up just so . . .but the shed needed power.
So I ran a couple of extension cords from an outside plug on the house in through the shed window, plugged in a trouble light, and my shed was electrified.
It was nice there in my shed, but it was kind of quiet. I had an old, broken-down Dell laptop that is too ancient to do any work on that had already made it to one of those shelves.
I kept looking at it, and then, hit by a flash of inspiration, I added those old speakers and turned it into a pretty whiz-bang mp3 player.
Now I had a workbench, some tools hanging on the walls, and something to play tunes on while I worked.
While we were on the road, I bought a little bar fridge to augment the too-small built-in refrigerator in our RV. It was just sitting there — so I hauled it into my shed.
On Thursday morning, I made myself a cup of coffee, went out to the shed to admire my handiwork, and despite the fact it was 50 degrees out and the shed was unheated, I thought I’d pull out that old laptop and jot down some ideas for the OL.
Next thing I knew, I’d been in there most of the morning, finished the OL, had moved out my coffeepot and a wireless telephone, and caught myself sitting out there, shivering in the cold, admiring my tools.
All the junk that had been inside the shed was piled up all around the outside of it, like a defensive perimeter wall around my fort. (I left a path to the door)
Inside, I was sitting with my feet propped up on the little fridge, listening to tunes, a fresh pot of coffee on the bench, wearing two sweaters and a wool hat, as happy as a clam.
Then Gayle came out. “What about the junk in the backyard?”
“What junk?” I asked.
“I think your gene pool needs more chlorine,” Gayle said.
I bet there’s room for a bunk over in the corner underneath my hammers.