Tale of the Two-Minute Job

Over almost forty-five years of wedded bliss (work with me here), my Beloved and I have cultivated a symbiotic relationship. There are numerous facets to this symbiosis, one of which is (1) I break things, (2) I attempt to fix them and (3) he eventually follows up by fixing them correctly. Amid a multitude of missteps, this is a dance we’ve perfected through the years.Handyman_Tools

While he was still in graduate school, we repainted the house we were renting. Since he’d done house-painting full-time during summer breaks, he knew the tricks of the trade (unlike me). When repainting began, I offered to help. As a can-do person, I naturally believed I could assist … I mean, you have a paintbrush and some paint … you slip the brush into the bucket, drench the bristles and slap paint on the wall. It’s not rocket science, right?!

In short order, I was demoted from painting most surfaces and given the task to paint louvered doors. Ugh! Eventually, that task was taken from me as well. Ever since, I’ve been banned from wielding a paintbrush.

… But I’m the kid who assisted my daddy whenever he had a job around the house. Granted, I was mainly there to hold the flashlight or keep the ladder steady or fetch another tool from the basement workbench, but I was his assistant! My experience didn’t qualify me as an expert, but more practice was all I needed in order to attain weekend handyman, er, handy-woman status (so I thought).

Yes, I have a sketchy record at this handy-woman thing. Today was an apt example. It began last week when I hung a wet bath towel over the rod and the rod clattered to the floor along with the wet towel. The rod had been loose and I knew it, but it wasn’t terribly bothersome so I ignored it. After it fell, my Beloved, the long-suffering in-house Prince, told me he’d fix it … and as is my wont, I thanked him and immediately dismissed the problem. But everyday that rod was missing, I grew a little more tired of its annoying absence.

Today, my tolerance reached its limit. I had some extra time and decided this two-minute job needed to be done NOW! Of course, it’s easy to guess things didn’t go as planned!

When I first attempted to remove the miniature set-screw holding the side piece (loosely) to the wall, each attempt was unsuccessful. All my screw-driving tips were out, but not one seemed to fit properly! No matter which tip I tried, the set-screw refused to budge, staying firmly in place! Frustrated, I stepped back to regroup. (In my head, I was reminding myself if I yank the thing off the wall, there’s going to be a big hole … definitely not the desired result.)

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Instead of continuing there, I turned my attention to the toilet paper holder which also was loose. (I’ve “fixed” that before.) This fixture has a similar set-screw design. Judging by the picture at right, it’s easy to see why; that hole in the wallboard is big enough for my pinky to fit through easily. I’ll repeat:  I’ve fixed this one before!

At this point, I’m into my second hour of this two-minute job, okay? Now I’m starting to scramble! In my haste to “fix” things, I’ve created a bigger mess, and unless I can manage some kind of solution quickly, my Beloved will have to pick up the pieces of my mess … again! (See why I describe him as long-suffering?)

2014-09-17 15.52.55Questions race through my head:  what’s the biggest size drywall anchors Lowe’s might carry? maybe the holes already exceed tolerable limits? what then?! Can I make it to Lowe’s and back and cover up these holes before my Beloved arrives home? What a mess I’ve made!

I managed to loosen the towel bar anchors but not without making another mess. The image to the left shows those wretched holes. This is where I start mentally beating myself up, wondering why I’ve plunged full-speed-ahead when I knew from the start this was a task to leave for my Beloved. Too late though. I don’t have time for flagellation. I’ve got to hurry out to Lowe’s!

In my opening paragraph, I mentioned my habit of breaking things and attempting to fix them. I replaced the towel rod and it’s firmly in place now. Hooray! I think I managed to do this job well enough my Beloved won’t need to redo it later! That’s success! I’m pleased with the replacement towel rod. Its side pieces (thankfully) cover a multitude of eyesores hidden underneath. On the down side, in my haste, I couldn’t match the original towel bar, but I keep telling myself, it’s hardly noticeable!2014-09-17 16.19.55

As an unexpected side benefit, the bar from the original towel rod was a perfect fit to replace another towel rod (in another bathroom) that my grandchildren had hung on, causing it to bend. If I were forced to measure, I’d point to that replacement as a legitimate two-minute fix.

As for the toilet paper holder, I can’t claim to having improved it. While it’s back on the wall … and functional … it’s no firmer than before. It’s no worse but no better either.

Eventually, if the holder doesn’t fall off the wall on its own (yes, in part due to my handiwork), my Beloved will decide to examine it. I’ll remind him of his crucial part in our symbiotic dance.

Then, as he eyes the size of that hole, I’ll borrow a memorable line ad-libbed by Roy Scheider’s in Jaws and tell my Beloved, “Darlin’, you’re gonna need a bigger bucket of Spackle.