When I was 7 years old, my dad got a job transfer to move us from Arizona to Oregon. My brother and I had awful dust allergies and it was going to become a weekly allergy shot ordeal if we continued to live there. My parents found a house along the Willamette River in a city just outside of Portland called West Linn. It was a newly developing area and the house they found wasn’t completely finished on the inside. My dad liked the idea of doing the finishing touches himself, so we moved in and he worked on it on the weekends.
My dad was pretty handy but he was taking on projects that were a little beyond his capabilities. He talked to neighbors on how to do some of them, a few even offering to help. My dad would have me and my brother watch and sometimes help with these projects. He felt it was a useful skill to have, and he was right.
I lived in apartments for a few years as an adult, where they had their own maintenance people. When I moved into my first house, I was excited that I knew some basic skills to do minor repairs and improvements on my own. When projects came up that were beyond my skill level, I would ask for advice from an employee when I was in Home Depot. I always got great advice, but the best thing came in the form of a “Do It Yourself” book that Home Depot had come out with. It broke projects down by category and even broke them down at skill level. If you were super handy (like building actual things) the more complicated projects would be easier for you. I appreciated the beginners level stuff because I had some skills, but I was no master project person.
A few months ago, one of my closest friends suddenly lost her husband. She’s always been a person who could handle taking care of things, but anything related to home improvement, yard maintenance or car repairs, she had left up to her husband. Now without a husband or his income, she didn’t know how to do these things but she also didn’t have the extra money to pay someone to fix them for her. She knew I had learned ways to do things like this on my own, so she used the power of the internet and googled how to repair the things that needed repairing.
Back when I was learning all of these things, there wasn’t a way to search online for stuff, which is why I got that book. But my 51 year old friend, who never knew anything beyond how to make a clothes dryer turn on, had watched a video online that showed her how to replace the belt and the fuse in her old dryer. The sense of satisfaction she had at being able to do this on her own was immeasurable. She had even learned how to fix a leaky hose on her car, how to patch a hole in the wall in her house, and how to work the riding lawn mower.
This may come across as a woman saying we don’t need men to do things for us, but that’s not my point. This applies to men and women. Sure, it may take a little bit longer to do on your than someone who specializes in that field. I have to say, knowing how to repair a sprinkler, change out a light fixture, a faucet, repair a hole in the wall, lay down hard wood flooring, tile and linoleum, apply and seal grout, replace a toilet gasket, or just repair a baseboard your puppy chewed on feels pretty damn great.