Tuesday, November 27, 2012

"Do It For Me"

     The other day I was driving along a state road outside of town when I saw a sign -- Free Clean Fill. Oh man, I thought, I have a little corner of my yard that washed away in the storm the other week. This would be great. I could fill it in.

     I went home, got two outdoor garbage cans, put them in the back of B's van, and returned to the state road. On the way, I remembered I once got free dirt from the town, and I hurt my back lifting the dirt-filled garbage cans out of the rear of the car. They were heavy! So, I cautioned myself, this time be careful.

     I only filled the garbage cans half full. I hefted them into the car. They were still heavy -- dirt is heavy -- but I did get them home. I emptied them into the corner of the yard, and I didn't hurt my back.

     Then I woke up the next morning. My back was fine. But I had a pain all down my right side. I climbed out of bed, gulped down some Advil, and struggled through the day. Now, three days later, my shoulder and the right side of my chest still hurt.

     And thus concludes my latest venture into DIY -- an abbreviation we're all familiar with, meaning "Do It Yourself."

     I have been struggling with DIY ever since 1977 when as a callow young fellow I bought my first house, and was surprised and disappointed to find out that the bathtub faucet in the hall bathroom didn't work.

     I made a trip to the hardware store and spent $75 (back then, a lot of money) on two different state-of-the-art wrenches plus a pair of pliers and a few other things the guy at the hardware store told me I would need. Then I went home, managed to get the shower hookup off the bathtub wall, only to find that the fitting looked nothing like what the fellow at the hardware store said it would look like.

     So I went back to the hardware store with my piece of plumbing. The guy took one look at it and guffawed. "I haven't seen a fixture like that in 20 years! How old is your house anyway?"

Wanna buy a wrench? Only used once!
     Nevertheless, he sold me some more equipment, for another $30, which he assured me would work. I returned home and wrestled with the pipes again. Make a long story short, after cutting my finger, spraining my wrist, and wasting an entire Saturday -- a precious weekend day, down the drain so to speak -- I called a plumber and had him fix the faucet. For another $75. (Like I said, back then $75 was a lot of money.)

     I've had a kind of love-hate relationship with DIY ever since. There was the time I stepped on a nail trying to fix our mailbox. The time I slashed my leg with the electric clippers when I was trimming our front hedge. The new attic stairs I installed . . . that came crashing down two days later. And don't ask what I did to my daughter when she was helping me out in the backyard one afternoon. Suffice it to say, you can barely see the scar anymore.

     Do you remember the 1990s TV show Home Improvement starring Tim Allen? It was supposed to be funny. I didn't get it.

     But on the radio the other day I heard a new acronym:  DIFM. It's the abbreviation for "Do It For Me." Instead of selling you some equipment and sending you home to do it yourself, the store sends someone out to your house to do it for you. It costs a little more, but still, this is a strategy I can support.

     I heard the term on some kind of business report. Apparently, Home Depot and Lowe's are facing retailing challenges because aging Baby Boomers are starting to fall out of love with DIY. They are beginning to prefer DIFM -- a trend that's been going on for a few years but is building as Baby Boomers get older.

     I think they're onto something. I have an electrical socket on the back wall of the kitchen that shorted out a while ago. Instead of electrocuting myself in another attempt at DIY, I think I'll go over to Home Depot and see what they have in the way of DIFM . . . after I take a few more Advil and my shoulder stops hurting. 



Arkansas Patti said...

You kind of remind me of a certain Mr. Huxtable. I like that DIFM idea a lot. Think I will see if they have it here.

Stephen Hayes said...

I'm with you; I have no skills to speak of when it comes to DIY. I once was foolish enough to buy a hundred year old house and soon learned that there is a deeeeeep level of hell called DIY!

Olga said...

There is indeed something to be said for recognizing one's limitations. I feel that we should not be depriving others of jobs that they do well. Of course, it helps immensely that there are skilled carpenters. plumbers and electricians in my family.

June said...

I like DIFM and I don't even need a store to access it. I have a husband.

Friko said...

My B. used to say he’d ‘fix it’ whatever it was. He bought the supplies, tools, and spare parts and the job would go on a long list of ‘things to do’. And stayed there, while I got more and more annoyed about the stuff for the job standing around and the job never getting any farther up the list.

I get the workmen in myself, these days. It costs more but it gets done.

schmidleysscribblins,wordpress.com said...

A repairman in need is a friend indeed. I keep their phone numbers handy. David's DiY days are behind him.

We spent almost $200 last week having our garbage disposal "fixed." David was really annoyed as the problem was a little screw from a bird toy which sounded much bigger. I could have fixed that he said, but I doubt it.

Anna said...

We can't do it ourselves anymore but we can make the process cheaper by helping our handyman. Usually, we organize and buy the supplies and then hand him things while he works.We pay a handyman that my husband found by the hour. This way his work goes more efficiently. I love to see a whole list of chores get done in a single morning. We would drag it on and on and make a lot of mistakes on our own.

#1Nana said...

I've got a DIY kind of husband. The only problem is that he never finishes anything. Our house is filled with almost finished projects. All the doors in the house have been replaced except for the closet door in the back bedroom. The other bedroom has new doors, but the molding is missing on the inside of the doors...the list goes on and on. Don't let me start on the exhaust fan in the kitchen...

Douglas said...

I do some things myself, others I leave to experts, and some I just refuse to do (like anything that involves going up on the roof). Like you, found that a 1 hour job often takes an entire day (sometimes two or more) and entails numerous trips to a hardware store. But I got a book a long time ago that helps a lot. It allows me to decide ahead of time if I want to even try. It's called "The New Complete Do It Yourself Manual" and it was published by Reader's Digest.

It won't help that pain you're feeling, though.

Rita said...

Yes, you can really hurt yourself doing yard work. I had a big project replacing deteriorated weed fabric under rocks. I made a mistake and scraped the rocks off the fabric into the dirt and weeds. It was difficult to get them separated. During the process, I had a big bin of dirt in my yard waste cart to put out to the street. Instead of asking my neighbor for help because I thought it was too late in the evening, I strained to do it myself. It gave me chest pains. They went away, but is wasn't a good thing to do. I learned a lesson.

Dick Klade said...

Fortunately, we moved near a son who is handy and willing to tackle our repair stuff. This has saved me numerous bumps, cuts, and scrapes, not to mention sparing my wife from considerable profanity and frustration with jobs not well done.

joared said...

My husband much preferred DIFM and would have loved this post. He did his share of DIY and but don't think he ever derived much pleasure from doing so. Perhaps if his father had engaged him when husband young, he might have had a different view. Now, I'm having to seek out some DIFM reliable people who won't try to take advantage of me -- I've been able to spot a few who have tried to take advantage, but think my husband was too intimidating for most to try to do so with him.