Murphy’s Law of Mechanics: Interchangeable parts won’t.
Dave’s Law of Applied Mechanics: If at first you don’t succeed, try demolition.
The above represents the sum total of my mechanical experience and expertise. Who hasn’t felt themselves growing old trying to fit Tab “A” into Slot “B” only to find that it simply isn’t working? Have you taken a little gadget apart in an attempt to repair it, and after an eternity spent reassembling the stupid thing, it still doesn’t work? Do you despair? Do you repeat the process again and again, torturing yourself on the project until your fingers bleed, your tools break, and your spirit withers? Not me. I destroy the little menace, getting my money’s worth of enjoyment by taking a much larger and heavier object and applying it with great force, producing a satisfying explosion of little airborne parts soaring every which way across the room.
Across the ocean, the Mail Online discusses a study which finds that people who are similarly inept are in good, albeit younger, company. The study found that over half of young people are unable to maintain their homes. A full 50 percent do not know how to rewire an electrical plug, while over half will not attempt to put up wallpaper, never mind try something like “bleeding a radiator” (didn’t they use to do that to people?). And when they do attempt repairs, it gets worse:
The study also found that when the under-35s do attempt to do a job themselves and it goes wrong, it costs nearly three times as much to fix as problems caused by other age groups. The average cost of putting right a botched DIY job carried out by someone under 35 is £2,498, compared with around £838 for those aged over 45.
So domestic and mechanical ineptitude is partly an age issue, but there must be more to it than that, yes? My brother in law literally built my Mother’s house after a drunk driver plowed into the living room of the previous house, and he did an unbelievable job. It would have been just a big smoking crater if I had tried that.
I’m not completely useless, however. Thanks to the military, I’ll do just fine in the field thank you very much. Survival and combat skills in the desert or jungle? No problem. I can field strip an M-60 like nobody’s business and deal with just about any situation that arises on the road in or around the 18 wheeler. But ask me to wire something in the house, install flooring, or do anything with plumbing and I’ll be as out of place as Tim Geithner at a tax audit or Bill Clinton under oath. Maybe it’s because I don’t wear my pants low enough.
Or maybe it stems in part from an acute lack of curiosity about these things during my formative years, and a distinct lack of patience with all things mechanical that persists to this day. On the negative side, this admittedly puts people like me at the mercy of experts and professionals when something goes wrong. On the other hand, I never fail to get my money’s worth of satisfaction out of any object I purchase.
Does this seemingly creeping ineptitude on the part of young people signal a bigger problem, or is it an assist to the professional fix-it people? Is there a need for more formal courses in this kind of thing, or should we just hide the large hammers?