Tuesday, August 18, 2009

My Little Story

So I get home from breakfast with my son Rocco, put the key in the front door and clink, the lock breaks. I ring the door bell and my wife answers, but she can't get the door open. The lock has broken, and like locks do when they break, the lock has broken so the mechanism is preventing the door from opening. A more foolish me would force the door open and cause $1,200 in damages (I've done this), but a more rational me knows to relax and go around.

Going around is a little perplexing because we only have one accessible door into the house. The back door opens to a balcony and the door in the kitchen opens to our garage, which has decades of time capsules that my wife files away like an Indiana Jones warehouse. She opens the large garage door for us, as it's the only way in, and I begin the excavation.

The key here is to keep the four-year old in good spirits. This is not a setback or a crisis, we are intrepid explorers, trying to cut our way through the dangerous jungle, so we can rescue mommy. Mommy needs our help; we are the ones safely outside. He is buying this story as I lift heavy boxes out of my way, stacking them a little too precariously next to us. The small child has always been cautious and knows not to knock them over. Still, my wife criticizes my stacking skills as I make my way through. Sometimes we dig through the jungle, only to find an impassible object in our way. In the jungle it might be a giant boulder. In my garage it was a seventy pound box of CD's, a box that would have been better suited for bedding or clothes.

So we finally make our way through the jungle and I'm sweating heavily, glad I've been working out on the Wii Fit, if for no other reason than the confidence that I'm somehow a wee bit fitter. We get into the house and I examine the lock. Now here is where the last year of modeling comes into play. After assembling 20+ models, several without instructions, my mechanically incompetent self makes a simple decision. If it is at all possible for human beings to replace a lock, I can do it. If I can build a Baneblade, which had wrong instructions, a Hellhound and a Demolisher, which had no instructions, I should not be deterred by a lock kit at the hardware store.

But you were in IT, you say. Surely you must be mechanically competent. In fact, no. Most of the really good IT guys I know are mechanically competent, the kind of people who as children drove their parents mad by taking apart small kitchen appliances to see how they worked. I was not this child. I am more the liberal arts kind of of guy who made his way into IT because it was stupidly easy and the timing was perfect. With a little study, anyone can become technical, but it takes a lot of curiosity and drive to become mechanical.

I once called my wife from a BMW dealership, and as a joke, told her I was about to buy a car and couldn't decide between jet black or metallic black. She shockingly told me to get whatever I wanted. In contrast, when I called her from the hardware store, about to buy a chain saw, it was the only time she informed me I was gravely in error. Limbs would be lost and therefore this purchase would not happen and I was to return immediately. I am not handy, by any means. So what changed?

I have to give a lot of credit to the various Games Workshop kits I've assembled over the last year in moving me further towards mechanical competency. I credit a lot of Dungeons & Dragons for improving my reading and writing skills as a kid. I can likewise credit Warhammer 40K for improving my mechanical ability as an adult. So parents, one of the great things about hobbies is they develop life skills useful later. Just ignore the fact that this 40 year old guy is still doing them.