So last weekend, I committed the classic lawnmowing pratfall: I rammed my incoming water line with the lawnmower and basically snapped it in half.
The immediate result was a showering geyser of water exploding right in front of me, followed by a flowering of curses from me, and then a brief episode of panicked running around that really felt like it should have been accompanied with tinkling piano music.
With my usual talent for making an epic mess of things, I’d broken the line below the shutoff valve, so the only thing I could really do was shut off the pump and wait for the pressure tank to gush its way out the line and into the yard. Well, and then I had to wait for my awesome landlords to get home so I could sheepishly sidle over to their house and go “So, guys...”
My landlord fixed it and everything was dandy after a few hours, although I strongly suspect that the time I broke the water pipe is going to become a running joke. Which, fine, whatever, I can deal with that. I occasionally do ridiculous things like that and I’m glad I had the presence of mind to turn off the pump rather than sitting there staring at the water spewing out until they returned from town.
Luckily it’s the rainy season so it wasn’t a huge deal. If it was the summer, I’m pretty sure my landlord would have drawn and quartered me.
But the whole thing reminded me that I really suck at home improvement projects.
The age of DIY
I feel like we live in an era where DIY is, well, very trendy. Crafts and home improvement are suddenly hip things to do, and everyone’s talking about them, watching television shows about them, writing books about them and joining little clubs to exchange tips and tricks.
Which, on the one hand, is totally great. I’m a big fan of people getting into hobbies they love and I’m sure there is something very satisfying about DIY projects. You do have something to look at, when you’re finished with your day, and it’s definitely a break from the jobs many of us have where we’re trapped in offices in front of computers all day. It’s a creative outlet, too, which is a terrific thing to have.
That’s why I garden, which I guess is part of the DIY trend, although I don’t garden anywhere near as seriously as most people do. I like to putter around in the yard for a few hours occasionally because the thought of looking at a screen for another second makes me want to scream. Other people do that, like, every day.
And raise bees. And use French intensive gardening1 techniques. And actually bother to turn their compost. And, like, prune things. And know which zone they’re in without having to look it up.
My friends are always talking about how they’re painting the bathroom or putting hardwood floors in the living room or plumbing the guesthouse or something over the weekend. You know. As one does. Meanwhile, my weekend plans rarely get more ambitious than eating a doughnut and possibly venturing into town to see if there are any checks waiting for me at the post office2.
I so don’t want to do it myself
Home improvement is just not my thing. I’m really talented at making a complete balls out of any project, no matter how simple. I am the person who never gets asked to painting parties or whatever, because everyone knows it’s better to just not have me around. Not even as a spectator and beer fetcher -- something terrible will happen just because I was there.
I’ve destroyed plumbing, ravaged basic construction projects, electrocuted people and utterly confused directions, only realizing it three hours in, at which point the project will take four hours to undo. The only thing I’m really good at is demolition, and boy howdy, do I do demolition well. I can dig a hole, bash in a wall, tear out a carpet and annihilate linoleum faster than anyone you’ve ever seen.
People only want me for my destructive tendencies.
I kind of have this belief that, well, this is why we pay professionals. Like, I don’t own my house. Therefore my supercool landlord gets to deal with it when I do things like accidentally yanking all the wiring out of the ceiling fan3, snapping the incoming water line in half or finding poo in my shower. Likewise, I leave wiper blade changing, transmission repair, and other car-related matters to my mechanic. And use my seamstress for sewing needs.
People keep giving me tools and I’m like, What the heck am I supposed to do with this?!
Or they’re giving me DIY guidebooks and saying it might be helpful. I could be more independent, if only I knew how to take apart a u-bend4! I’m like, dude, this is why checking accounts were invented. Someone else can take apart the u-bend. Please.
The exceptions to the rule
OK, actually, I am pretty good at electrical wiring, because I used to work for a theatre. It turns out that periodic electrical shocks make very useful learning tools! And also, switches/outlets/dimmers are pretty basic once someone goes over the mechanics with you. And you get shocked. A few times.
And knitting. But I am so far from being a knitting badass that I'm not sure it counts as an exception.
Seriously though, who else sucks at DIY and isn’t afraid to admit it?
1. Whatever the heck THAT is, right? All I know is I stuck a baguette in the ground and a baguette tree DID NOT GROW. Return
2. Or, alternately, coming up with reasons to avoid going into town because I know there will be bills waiting for me at the post office. Return
3. Yes, really. Return
4. OK, confession, I can take apart the U-bend under the bathroom sink. But that’s because it’s right there and, like, fairly obvious. You just unscrew the...thingie...and then pull the other thing. Oh, and do it over a bucket or you'll regret what happens next. Return