Over the years I've developed a bit of a reputation in my neighbourhood as a Fix-It Guy. Within the small circle of houses on my court, I have 2 advantages, it seems: I have a lot of tools and I 'do something with computers' for a living.
Everything is relative, of course. Having a lot of tools is no guarantee that they're useful. To some folks, hammering a nail with the flat side of a wrench is perfectly okay. Likewise, 'doing something with computers' is no guarantee that a teenager's PC can be disinfected from all varieties of virii that travel through cyberspace on the backs of stolen MP3s and Vanessa Hudgens money shots.
Still, my neighbours keep me busy. I've fixed toilets, replaced sump-pumps, hooked up PCs to the Innertubes, even buried a family pet. I like to help. It feels good. And it's good karma that often come back to me in the form of returned favours, bottles of Scotch, or lovely baked goods.
But I feel like I'm slipping - like my salad days of handy-hood might be on the wane. It started a few months back.
One my regular 'customers' - a single mom with a special needs kid - called me all in a tizzy over a botched toilet repair. I'll spare the details other than to say that my repair unearthed another critical problem. In resolving that problem - and feeling the glow of gratitude from my neighbour - I neglected to install a gasket in a place where a gasket is critical. The result was water - lots of water - seeping through the ceiling below. I fixed my mistake quickly and, while the good neighbourly vibes did not seem to diminish, I felt like a bit of a fraud.
While that may have been an anomaly, tonight's events make me wonder. Over the last few weeks I've been helping another neighbour learn the ins-and-outs of her new iPod. Tonight there was a frantic knock on the door, and there she was clutching her iPod. She was trying to load a rented movie onto her New Best Friend, in preparation for a plane trip the next day. Sensing her critical timing, iTunes was throwing up cryptic errors. "Relax", I said, "I'll help." 90 minutes later, I had deduced that the problem was well-known on the Innertubes, and none of the recommended fixes would work for me. She graciously offered that she had a good book picked out for her trip, and that I was 'super' for trying. I shuffled home in the dark mulling over the fact that 25 years of 'doing something with computers' didn't seem to matter too much all of a sudden.
I need a win and I need it soon. Maybe something simple like hanging a picture straight or rescuing a kitten from a tree. Otherwise, I'll be buying my own wine and cake. And that ain't good.