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The Process: Becoming A Handyman

October 19th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

My Pop was a construction worker, and one thing you learn very quickly being raised by a  construction worker is there’s a tool to fix everything. From the time he moved in when I was in kindergarten to the time I was a freshman in high school when he and my mom separated, I never saw one repair man come to our place. But for reasons I won’t get into, I never fully grasped how important that concept was, no matter how much he tried to instill it into me.

Today, I have a few tools here in my apartment; a drill, a couple hammers, some screwdrivers (a Phillips and flathead), one or two wrenches, and a tape measure. I know how to change a tire, and if given a manual, I can install or fix most things. One of the proudest moments in my young life is installing a ceiling fan for one of my ex-girlfriends.

So I know how to work with my hands to some capacity, but definitely not at a capacity with which I’m comfortable. For as much as I know how to do, there’s even more I don’t know, and to avoid being the man who is always inviting another man into my place to have him fix what is probably a simple problem, I want to be the man who can fix it himself.

Now as is the case with most of the attributes I attempt to acquire throughout this process, becoming a handy man is something I definitely want to know not only for myself, but whoever I end up settling down with and my future children. My older brother built my old bed with his own two hands from plywood he bought at the lumber yard, and he’s not a bed maker. He specializes in sheet rock installation, but still, there’s no problem my brother doesn’t know how to fix. And just because I made a choice to not be a construction worker a long time ago, doesn’t mean I want to know any less than a construction worker. If anything, I think it would be a little bit more appealing to outsiders if I can be a writer who knows how to fix things.

What’s funny is, being a writer is exactly the reason why I want to learn more about working with my hands. It’s not because I need a side hustle, it’s because when I was growing up, as much as I hated working on all those construction sites with my Pop, in retrospect, the fruits of such labor were far greater than anything I might have written. From installing break pads on my Mom’s van to fixing the plumbing in our household, my Pop did it all. My brother bought a fixer-upper and fixed it all up himself, with his own two hands.

People say I have a gift, but when I think about the kinds of things my Pop could do and the kinds of things my brother could do, I wonder how can I get their gifts too. They may not be able to write like me, but when an ex of mine and I bought some Ikea furniture, my writing skills didn’t come in handy, nor did my reading skills. Ikea directions are ridiculous. So we had to call my brother to come in and save the day, which as it turns out, would require way more tools than Ikea was suggesting in the manual.

From learning how to change the oil to fixing loose cabinet doors and replacing old light fixtures with new ones, at some point soon, I’m going to need to acquire some more handyman skills. Maybe for Christmas I’ll ask for one of those Makita power tool sets, if not to use them, to at least appear like I’m willing to use them because some women don’t care if a man knows how to use the tools, she just cares that he has them.

Case in point: One day I was in line checking out at the supermarket down the street from me when I ran into one of my neighbors. The two of us see each other across the sea of people and she says, “Hey Jozen, how are you?”

“Fine!” I say. “Headed home?”

“Yeah,” she says. “I just had to pick up a few things.”

“Okay then, well have a good day,” I said.

I go back to check out when I hear my neighbor yell, “Hey, Jozen, quick question?”

Now everyone has their eyes on us because we are talking at each other with at least three aisles between us.

“What’s up,” I say.

“Do you have a drill?”

At that moment, I could feel the eyes of every woman within the vicinity of our conversation looking at me. I felt like I was on one of those Visa commercials where everyone is swiping their card and I was the one who gave the cashier some cash. Everyone stopped what they were doing and looked at me for my answer, but I knew I had it under control.

“A drill,” I said. “Yeah, I have a drill. When do you need it?”
Even my neighbor who asked me seemed a little shocked. “You have a drill?” she said.

“Yep, I have a drill, do you need it today,” I said.

“Uh yeah, if you can,” she said.

“Will do,” I said. When I took a quick glance around me, all the women who looked at me with question marks in their eyes now looked at me like they wanted me to make a house call. I was never more proud to own a drill. But no one knew about my inability to use the drill. It’s not like I was going to help my neighbor use the drill. When I arrived at her apartment, I just handed it over to her. Considering the repair was beyond my expertise, I figured it was best to let her handle whatever she needed to handle. I was just a guy with a drill. I wasn’t a handyman. But soon, I will be.

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  • Spiacl

    You know, being a handyman/construction worker does have a side bennie..you get a mini-work out (if you’re a handyman) and nice muscles( if you’re in construction lol) and the admiration of the female who you fixed/built something for..Agree with you on the IKEA instructions. I wonder if that’s a Scandinavian thing, or just a IKEA thing..

  • Tiggums McGhee

    I feel you on wanting to hone your skills as a handyman. Something about a man who can fix things around the house reminds me of a man who is a good provider and protecter….kinda like my father (or the type of father some women wish they had growing up), which is a good thing. It’s also pretty hot being a handyman lol 😉 Good luck with your process!

  • http://twitter.com/djchriscruz Chris Cruz

    My dad took pride in taking care of stuff around the house even though he wasn’t a handyman by definition. He put up tilted towel racks without using a level, spent 20 mins hand pumping each car tire with a bike pump, and refused to use power tools in favor of old school screw drivers and hand tools. During the summer he mows the lawn EVERY weekend. It’s a dying trait with males now that technology is taking over much of our lives. The new age handy man is evolving into a IT computer wiz.

  • miss.riss

    Having a dad who is a carpenter, I definitely value men who know how to do stuff around the house. It’s just something about not having your man next to you as you watch another man fix something…lol I want to watch my man fixing it!

    Plus, it definitely comes with some rewards..lol

  • Jahna

    Being a handyman is great, its quite sexy- IF you know what you’re doing. But if you don’t, you’ll end up looking like Cliff Huxtable- swearing you know how to fix something and making an even bigger mess!

  • BoomShots

    Dad was never very handy most of the stuff to be fixed around my home growing up was done by an actual handyman. Being an homeowner has made me a handyman and I think I am pretty good to tell the truth. I have done plumbing, carpentry and a mess of other stuff pretty much by observation, trial and error. I will not do anything electrical beyond replacing a light fixture though.

    The truth is a lot of handy man type jobs are “plug and play” a modicum of common sense and you good to go. Most of the tools and products are created for the DIY market. So that even some of the stuff I think about calling a pro for I can do myself if I had the time that is….I live in a old house and I can tell you being handy in a old house is a little more difficult than being handy in a fairly new home. Nothing is never as simple as they make it appear, i.e there are no straight walls or floors in a old house.

    I luckily have a group of friends who are way more handy than myself and so if I really have a project like hanging some cabinets, laying tile or re-wiring, I can definitely give them a call. You do feel really proud doing it yourself but if it is not something you do all the time, after you made that 5th trip to Home Depot it can wear your ass out quick.

  • http://sleep-is-the-cousin-of-death.blogspot.com/ taut_7

    funny my dad thought he was a handy man but he usually ended up messing up things more around the house than before he started. my dad is good with cars. brakes, oil change, engine work. my brother picked up on that as well. he changes his own brakes, oil, etc. once he changed his own starter by looking how the old one was in place, buying a new one and putting it in the same way. it sounds so simple but trust me it’s not.

  • Anonymous

    My sister and I always joke that when we get engaged, our fiances will have to endure bootcamp with our dad so that they can learn all that he knows about fixing…well, everything. I know one day Pop’s not going to be around to answer my random “dad, the car sounded like this..” questions, so I want a man who can.

  • blakladyj

    I have never met a man like my grandfather who i think can fix anything…Cars, stuff around the house…ANYTHING! He saves me alot of money on car repairs. But If I met a guy that was handy and could fix stuff that would be a big turn on to me.

  • Nadira Rae

    I think it’s cool that you want to learn to be more “handy”. To me, it seems like some younger men don’t take as much pride in being able to do and fix things themselves (let alone build), like the older generations of men have. My dad is pretty handy (right now he’s installing new floors and repainting the living/dining room at my parents’ house) and he finds it kind of relaxing/ therapeutic. I picked up alot of his “handiness” because I just loved doing stuff with him when I was younger (regardless of what it was). It’s kind of expected for men to be that way, but I think more women should embrace those skills. You NEVER know when you might need them (like when I caught a flat on 95N and my tire was ripped to shreds…luckily, I knew how to change a tire AND had the strength to do it, those nuts are NO joke lol)

  • CourtyJ

    My dad is MacGyver. He re-did the entire living and dining room floor in my mom’s house (that she owns with her new husband), fixed the faucets on the tub and sink in our bathroom AND built me Miami-styled cabanas for my 25th birthday in the same weekend. He’s who you call and ask for advice on everything “handy”. He turns a large one bedroom into two with closets and has spare parts to make shelves. lol. Yes. Being handy is sexy. Yes it is a talent and a great thing to be but it isn’t something I would value more than your words. It’s something I’d appreciate along with. Because quite frankly… people doing what they are BEST at is what I appreciate. If you knew how to build a shelf but my dad was willing to do it, I’d still choose my dad. But if I needed help writing, or an opinion on an article, or wanted to discuss a book, or a song, I’d come to you. Words mean a lot to me. And they should mean a lot to the woman you choose to be with. She should value your talents and appreciate them, always. Your awesomeness isn’t lessened because you don’t know how to build a bed. If I’m dating a writer, that’s what I’m expecting him to be good at. Anything else… is a perk.

  • http://lustbeforelove.blogspot.com/ Princess0889

    I think this is funny because you had the same type of dad I had minus my dad being a construction worker. I loved growing up knowing no matter what I broke growing up it could be fixed. While growing up I received the pleasure of being his assistant with everything, so now I know everything from how to fix most problems with a car, fixing electrical wiring, setting up insulation, and putting up a wall. Now the task is to find a man who can do the same or get close, I don’t mind teaching.

  • Anonymous

    every single man, regardless of profession, should be a handyman. period. i’ve seen my father build wall units, desks, lay down wood flooring and then turn around and fix a car… all with his 2 hands and without an ounce of training. my uncle and granfather are the same exact way. it’s something i’ve come to expect in any man i date. he must be able to build or at least fix something with his hands and tools. if not… honestly, he loses points. hell, i can fix many things on my own and have even built a couple of pieces of furniture (pre-fab of course, lol) all on my own. so if i can do it, the man in my life must be able to also. he doesn’t have to be perfect but he’s got to know what he’s doing on some level or it really won’t work.

  • Jess773

    Agree with it all and appreciate the ode to your dad and bro.

    I’d really like a future husband who is good with his hands. This is on my list of marriage demands lol. My dad was an electrician and a jack of all trades and as the eldest of six kids (four boys, two girls) I was not excluded from the work that he and my brothers did.

    My best memory is when my parents refinanced our house, they made us do all the work. No contractors necessary. Needless to say, I know how to fix a lot of things, measure, sand floors, repair walls, put in toilets, cabinets etc.

    In my experience, the only bad thing about it is that some men find it intimidating esp those who don’t necessarily have those skills. Until I get married, I’m glad to know how to do a lot of these things on my own.

    Anywho, keep the process going!

  • http://twitter.com/fixedwater Jonessy

    you know how men love women who cook, that’s how i love a man who knows what to do with tools! its schexxy
    although i’m very handy myself

  • citygirl22

    My Dad is also Mr. Fix-It AND he loves to throw down in the kitchen, so personally, I’ve always had a special place in my heart for men who are hands-on and multi-talented.

    In case you need a more superficial motivation, Jozen… the Fix-It Friend is usually the one a woman calls when she needs something hung/installed/measured/moved/tweaked. And depending on the relationship you have, she shows her gratitude in a variety of ways 😉

  • http://www.localtraders.com/leek-ST-tradesmen/ Chris Leek

    Really enjoyed the read. My dad was the same and i have reached the age where i can do most things round the house but i still have loads to learn. My dads advice was to just get stuck and give whatever needs doing a go. Worst case scenario, the person i would have hired would then help out anyway. Nothing ventured, nothing gained!

  • http://www.timingbeltreplacement.co.uk/ timingbeltreplacement.co.uk

    Really excellent read. Thanks for that!

  • guest

    To add to the comments….

    Recently, I had a revelation. My pops like many others fathers, always seemed to know how to fix/do things around the house/car. I mean he single handedly finished my childhood home’s basement…drywall, wiring, carpet and all. He was a military soldier/officer and retired to be a civil service employee. All of his blue collar with was done as a teen.

    Point is that I never knew the struggle he had to go through to acquire those handyman skills. As a son, I just thought he could do it all, so as a younger man I felt inadequate to him in terms of handyman skills… As I grow older my skills increase…and one day my son may feel the same. I just hope he pays more attention to me than I did my father when he asked me to help him so he could pass his skill set onto me.