Thanks for Asking

     Jane found me whanging an ax on a back tire of my truck, and she – what’s the word I want here? – remonstrated.
     “Robert! Put that ax down!”
     “In a minute,” I said, with some hauteur, “soon as I get the snow tires off.”
     “You don’t take tires off with an ax!” Jane said. Women. What do they know?
     “I am using the blunt end,” I observed. “I asked David down at the Sunoco if I could take the snows off by whanging them with a sledgehammer and he said it’s perfectly appropriate.”
     “That’s not a sledgehammer.”
     “We don’t have a sledgehammer.”
     “You’re going to cut yourself,” Jane said. “That ax is going to bounce and hit you in the leg.”
     I whanged the tire a fifth time with the blunt edge of the ax and it popped off the wheel, bounced once and surrendered.
     “Behold,” I said.
     “You wouldn’t have to do that if you’d changed your tires last year,” Jane said.
     “Now, now,” I riposted.
     “You’ve been driving on those snows for two years,” Jane said.
     “And?” I said, pertly. “Now it’s time to change them.”
     I walked around the back of the truck to the other back wheel. I whanged it with the back side of the ax.
     “I’m not going to watch this,” Jane said.
     “Fine,” I said, taking another shot at it. “But if I holler, ‘Help!’, come and see.”
     Four more whacks with the ax and the other wheel fell off.
     Give me a can of WD-40 and an ax and I can move the world, Archimedes said. Or words to that effect.
     I am not – what’s the word I want here? – adept – that’s the word – I am not adept with tools.
     I believe, as did James Thurber, that mechanical implements and tools are engaged in an active conspiracy to frustrate and hurt me.
     But I’m a man. I know how to change a tire. Don’t I? Certainly I do.
     Not that I do not like small machines and tools.
     I’m a man, am’n’t I? Certainly I am. Last time I checked.
     I whanged my truck into submission in the veritable shadow of my compound miter saw. I bought that saw because I needed it, and because I like saying “compound miter saw.”
     “Bring me your best compound miter saw,” I might say.
     Or, “My good man, what’s the best blade for my compound miter saw?”
     I have a lot of tools down in the basement that I don’t use too often, including another power saw that I believe Jane has hidden from me.
     She has not hidden any of my bicycle tools. There, I draw the line. And, sooth to say, bicycles and saxophones are probably the only tools I should be allowed to operate.
     Not that I am clumsy, or out to do harm. No, no. I’m just not good with tools.
     Back in 1969, as the world was falling part and I graduated from high school, I ran away to San Francisco to be a hippie. Being a hippie didn’t pay well, and when I ran out of money I looked for a job.
     IBM was hiring. I answered a newspaper ad and IBM gave me 4 hours of tests, graded them immediately, and called me into Human Resources.
     The HR guy studied me up and down: my ratty clothes, my long hair, my shiny young eyes.
     “Well, Mr. Kahn,” he said, “I’ve never seen a candidate score so high on ‘Ability to Learn’ and so low on ‘Mechanical Aptitude.'”
     He offered me a job in advertising.
     I went to college instead.
     I’ve liked IBM ever since. I mean, they offered me a job. They didn’t have to do that.
     And they nailed me in just 4 hours: Good learner – don’t trust him with tools.
     My tires are rolling splendidly. Thank you for asking.

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