I am one of those men who have an amazing aptitude for mechanical devices. Give me a broken appliance, such as a vacuum sweeper, and I can disassemble it and put it back together a few hours later with such efficiency that half a dozen parts are left over! My wife pretends she isn't impressed, insisting that it would be lot more useful if the thing would work after I was finished with it. Some women just seem to lack an appreciation for fine engineering.
So when I was told the garage door opener was not functioning, I put on my tool belt and went out to take a look. My tool belt is this thick leather job with all kinds of hooks and loops from which one can hang hammers, ice tongs, road flares, and the like. When I put it on and walk around, I clank in a very manly fashion. There's a measuring tape I employ to verify distances between me and other stuff -- when I push a button, the tape rapidly zips back into its container, which the cat finds most amazing. I also have a plumb bob, which is a metal bullet that hangs from a string and points at the ground. Hold it up to the ceiling, let it dangle down to the end of the line like a two-pound Christmas ornament, and there you have it: that's the ground. No doubt this Bob, whoever he was, made quite a bit of money off this invention. Before he came along, when people went to dig a hole, they probably just started stabbing their shovels in random directions, hitting trees limbs more often than dirt.
My son gets even more excited than the cat when he sees the tool belt come out, and asked if he could help. This was a good thing, because when I reached up to check the opener, the tool belt dragged my pants down in the direction the plumb bob points, and I had to ask my son to hang on to my jeans so that I wouldn't look ridiculous.
My wife, having heard a rumor that I was actually engaging in home repair, came out to join us. "You look ridiculous," she informed me. "Why is your son holding up your pants?"
"Pretty much demolishes your theory that I'm getting a beer belly, doesn't it?" I responded.
She joined me to peer up at the device that, until recently, had so reliably raised the garage door. "Can you see what's wrong?"
"Well, upon autopsy I'm noticing a large number of black burn marks around the motor," I told her manfully. "Obviously, this unit has been subjected to a great deal of abuse." I gave her a stern look. "What precisely were you doing when you broke it?"
She frowned, clearly ashamed I had so quickly uncovered her crime. "All I did was push the button on the remote!" she protested.
"Aha!" I answered wisely. I pulled out my tape measure and confirmed that the ceiling was, indeed, some distance from the floor. "Obviously, that's what broke it." I began fussing with a road flare.
"So, can you fix it?" she asked.
I gave her a look. A man with a tool belt like mine, and she asks if I can fix it? "I'll probably have to buy a new motor, maybe knock a hole in the wall," I speculated. "Run a new plasma drive, re-articulate the garage, get a satellite TV dish."
"Dad, can I stop? I'm getting tired," my son complained.
"I think the first question we need to answer is, why do we even need to open the garage door in the first place? With all this junk, it's not like we can fit a car in here," I noted.
"So you're not even going to try," my wife interpreted.
My son let go of my belt, and my pants hit the floor with a thunk. My wife seemed to find this amusing, though she stopped laughing when, hours later, I had defied her expectations and completely repaired the problem.
The adjustments the garage door company needed to make afterward were, in my opinion, strictly minor.
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Submitted By: W. Bruce Cameron
May 31, 2000 13:23