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Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • A Little Salt: A task I was qualified to perform

  • A lack of handyman skills had Courier-Post columnist Danny Henley performing all sorts of tasks.
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  • I’ve heard it said that women are unconsciously drawn to men who remind them of their father. I don’t know if I buy into that theory considering my wife’s dad is a Class A handyman, and I’m, well, pretty useless when it comes to performing household projects.
    My lack of practical skills is something I readily accept and have publicly acknowledged in this space on previous occasions. But there are lots of things I’m not capable of doing at this point in my life – throw a baseball 95 mph, pilot an airplane, play the saxophone, train an elephant. My lack of a certain skill set really isn’t a factor unless it is needed, which was the case recently when it came time to re-do the siding of our porch.
    Because I knew the project was far beyond anything I was capable of doing, we turned to my oldest son, Caleb, who fortunately has his grandfather’s handyman gene and a helpful heart.
    Caleb made good headway on the project with the assistance of my wife, Nancy, who wears the tool belt in our household, and our daughter, Anna, who was a draftee.
    When Nancy and I arrived home after work on Thursday, we both changed clothes and went out to assist. While Nancy had no trouble finding helpful things to do, I was at a loss beyond grabbing an occasional tool or moving a board.
    I spent more time just standing and watching with my hands in my pockets. Anyone driving past likely thought I was supervising. Such a notion was incredibly inaccurate.
    As late afternoon turned to evening, and my boredom and mosquito bite total grew, I eventually drifted inside the house and started watching TV.
    Since I was slated to work the evening shift at the Courier-Post Friday, I had the bulk of the day to “help.” But on this occasion some “busy-work” tasks were found to keep me occupied, while not impeding the real work that was underway.
    A good chunk of my service time was spent “de-nailing” old boards and siding that had been removed.
    My tools were either a hammer or crowbar. I’d use the hammer to tap out the point of the nail from the underside of the board. Then I’d use the crowbar to grip the nail’s head and pull it out of the board.
    As time passed, I gained an appreciation for the crowbar. In one fell swoop I could use it to separate board “A” from board “B,” and then use its opposite end to hook the nail and pull it out, provided the nail’s head was big enough.
    Page 2 of 2 - I’m not sure how many nails I removed, but I contributed to filling a couple of empty green bean cans that had been designated as nail holders.
    I also felt a degree of satisfaction in the fact that despite working the majority of the day with old, rusty nails, I never had a close encounter that required me to go get a tetanus booster.
    There were other jobs that I was asked to help perform for the good of the cause. I periodically would hold the end of a tape measure while Caleb took measurements. On occasion I also was asked to help stabilize a piece of siding at just the right height while Caleb screwed it into place.
    But when you’re the low man on the work site, you quickly learn that no job is beneath you.
    After my keen-eyed bride noted that a dog had made a couple of night deposits near our work site, guess who was asked to go get the pooper-scooper?
    At least I had a task to perform for which I was adequately skilled.
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