Mr. Fix-It

     Hummingbirds are wonderful creatures: iridescent, ethereal as they hover and dart their tongues into flowers.
     Yet if you hired a hummingbird to be a linebacker for the Chicago Bears, you would be on the wrong track.
     This completes our introduction.
     Now comes the transition.
     Just as it would be wrong to hire a hummingbird to play football or to move pianos, so it would be inappropriate to hire me to do mechanical things for you, such as repair your house or car.
     Tools attack me. I’m not good with tools. I believe that tools and vehicles have entered into a conspiracy to kill me, to do me harm.
     Take Thursday, for example.
     For reasons that escape me, but probably have to do with my unfitness as a human, I agreed to move a ton of books from where I live, in Vermont, to California.
     To do this, I bought a trailer to haul behind my pickup truck. This trailer weighs 1,000 pounds.
     Let me tell you right now that I have two graduate degrees. I am a Master twice over. My parents, god bless ’em, sent me to the finest schools.
     Why, then, would a person with my education think it a good idea to unhitch a 1,000-pound trailer on a steep driveway, and assume he could guide it, oh so gently, into a place by the garage?
     Mark you – as Shakespeare surely said somewhere – I spent far more time this week weighing books – deciding how many books make a ton, and which books should go into that ton, and whether to take Richard Ford or William Hazlitt – than I did considering whether I could hold a half-ton trailer on a steep driveway.
     What happened of course is that the trailer knocked me on my butt and careened downhill, knocking over the mailbox and landing in a ditch.
     Were it not for the curve in my driveway, and were children on bicycles or anyone in a car passing by at that moment, the world today would be a sadder place.
     But no. I picked myself up and galumphed down the driveway to haul the trailer out of the ditch. It had not quite settled yet. It knocked me on my butt again and damn near broke my leg. Missed it by about a quarter of an inch.
     I spent the next two hours trying to get the trailer out of the ditch.
     I succeeded.
     We shall lightly skip over the hour after that, during which I parked the trailer, this time on a relatively flat surface. We shall proceed to the part where I drilled holes into the steel sides of the trailer, to build a sort of wooden cage for that ton of books.
     Did you know that if you press a drill, really hard, through the side of a steel trailer, and the drill breaks through at last, that the drill catches the side of the hole and spins around really fast, and smacks you upside the head?
     Did you know that the drill will do this on every one of the sixteen holes you drill as you make a wooden cage of two-by-fours to hold that ton of books?
     Trust me on this – it could happen.
     So. Trailer looks pretty good. Now all I have to do it load it up and drive 3,200 miles. But first I have to fix the trailer to the hitch, and secure it with a cotter pin.
     Funny thing about that cotter pin …

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