Sunday, 29 June 2008

How Hard Can it Be?

I don't often spend my weekends trying to come up with blog ideas, but sometimes situations just present themselves and need to be shared.

We are imperfect creatures, we human beings. We all have strengths and weaknesses. There are situations in which some of us excel, while others truly suck. For example; I am not a Ms. Fix-it. If something were to break in this house, (save a burned out lightbulb or a clogged toilet) I would require assistance in repairs. I recognize this as a vulnerability in myself and should something require repair, I immediately call for help, either professional or in-house! (As I have previous reported, the husband is a remarkable creature in that he is one of a dying breed--the Jewish handyman!!) I admire people who know their limitations and know when to cry UNCLE!! I respect the individual who recognizes that they don't know everything about anything. I like the person who asks for help. And then there are those who think that they are smart enough and gifted enough to handle any and every situation. They suffer from the "How hard can it be?" syndrome. "Sure I will install the new lighting in the bedroom. How hard can it be?" "My car needs new spark plugs. I can do it, how hard can it be?" "The bathroom shower is leaking and needs to be re-caulked. How hard can it be?" My family has one such individual! The husband's father has been a chronic sufferer of the "How hard can it be?' syndrome. His attempts to install, repair and improve are legendary in family folklore. Allow for some historical examples.

Years ago, the family purchased a brand-spanking new dishwasher. The father-in-law, being a chronic suffer of the "How hard can it be?" syndrome, decided that he could install the machine on his own. Rather than connect the appliance to the required 120 voltage, he mistakenly connected it at 240. He didn't realize his error until while testing the new outlet, he plugged in the vacuum cleaner. Well, the vacuum raced across the floor faster then NASCAR!!

When the in-laws moved into their current residence, the mother-in-law wanted to buy new horizontal blinds to cover some unsightly windows. Being a chronic sufferer, he decided "How hard can it be?" He went to the store, bought the blinds and asked for the husband's help in the installation. One small detail, he didn't measure the windows! For years the blinds hung over the sides of the windows and onto the walls.

My in-laws have an antique glass cabinet. Last week, the old key that was in the ancient lock broke off and half-lodged itself inside. The cabinet apparently could not be opened. The father-in-law, in classic "How hard can it be?" mode, took a pair of pliers to the lock, seemingly jamming it further. The mother-in-law, clearly infuriated, asked the husband to take a look at the lock. The husband walk over, pressed on the glass door and it magically opened. Not only that, he then just pulled the broken piece of the key out with his fingers. It took all of 10 seconds. We don't think that the father-in-law even tried to open the door. He automatically went for the tools.

And then there was yesterday!! The father-in-law, fed up with his old PC, invested in a new iMac. Now this is truly the purvey of the husband. The father-in-law called the husband to ask for his help in it's installation. Given that we were already engaged yesterday, the husband told his dad that he would happily help him with the computer on Sunday, but that the beauty of the Mac is that it is truly plug and go. The father-in-law figured this really was a case of "How hard can it be?" and proceeded to hook up his brand-spanking new computer. He should have waited. The last time he tried to hook up a computer, he unplugged the modem and couldn't figure out why his internet wasn't working. Yesterday, made that seem like amateur hour. After more than 5 phone calls, came the piece de resistance!! The mother-in-law called in a panic. Her beloved laptop was not working, because the father-in-law had messed with it. What had he done? He took the OSX install disc and put it in her computer. Why? Because he claims that his computer told him to do it. The husband is still laughing about this as I write. He wants to know from his father, what else did the new computer tell him to do? Did it tell him to jump off of the Bloor Viaduct? It is like HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey. The mother-in-law was livid. They couldn't eject the disc because it was installing the operating system on her previously problem-free machine. The irony in all of this is that OSX was already installed on his new computer as well!!!! The husband is headed toward mid-town later today to try and repair the damage.

I would like to offer some advice to my father-in-law. Don't touch things that you don't understand. Throw away your tools and retire! Really, how hard can it be?

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