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Mechanical Geniuses

Mechanical Geniuses


I have a couple of male friends who seemingly can fix any household problem. One has installed toilets, light fixtures and a hot water tank at my house. In his "real" life, he's the CEO of a company he co-founded. But for years, he owned rental properties and he taught himself to do a lot of home repairs. Another friend, whom many of us refer to as "McGuyver," can fix ANYTHING. He's been troubleshooting issues with my dryer this week, fixed a leak in my upstairs bathroom a few months ago and last summer, replaced fascia board behind the gutters on my house. From 9-5, he's an IT guy. (And yes, I realize I'm incredibly blessed to have such generous and competent friends.)

I’m no home-repairing CEO or mechanical genuis like McGuyver, but sometimes I surprise myself.

Like most people, I have a healthy respect for electricity and for sharp objects. I have never reached into the blender or mixer while they’re running. I would never pull grass out of a running lawnmower – though I have a friend who did and lost the tips of two fingers – a reportable workplace injury, according to OSHA. I would never reach into a running garbage disposal and I would never work on anything electrical while it is plugged in (appliance) or while there is live current (light fixtures).

I almost have too much respect for these things, perhaps because I so often write about workplace “accidents” that leave employees maimed or worse. Even when appliances are unplugged, I worry that perhaps there’s just a smidge of current remaining. (What do I know? I never claimed to be an electrician or electrical engineer!). Even when things like lawn mowers and garbage disposals are turned off or unplugged, I worry that they might start up again. (Poltergeists, perhaps?!)

As a result, I’d rather leave repairs – large and small – to professionals. But once in a while, I decide to take matters into my own hands.

Two of my greatest personal moments of pride as an adult have come from fixing things: I replaced a light fixture a couple of years ago and last night, I fixed my garbage disposal.

Those of you who have fixed a “broken” garbage disposal are laughing at me right now. I can hear you. Apparently, 90 percent of the time, garbage disposals are not broken, they are jammed. A little turn of a special key under the motor or a jiggle of the blades from above and most are fixed in seconds. I did not know this. Mine has been broken for THREE YEARS.

Last night, when I got home from work, I turned to YouTube. You can learn how to do just about EVERYTHING on YouTube. I watched three videos and felt that my training was complete. I didn’t have the special key mentioned in the videos, so I carefully unplugged the garbage disposal and using a wooden spoon, turned the flywheel counterclockwise. I ran some water through it, plugged it in, turned it on and viola! There was the wonderful grinding sound of a happy garbage disposal.

Sometimes repairs are quick fixes, sometimes they require professionals. I guess the key is knowing which ones we safety can handle ourselves and which ones we should contract out.

I don’t know much about  fixing broken appliances, but I’d be happy to fix your garbage disposal and look like a mechanical genius while doing it.

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