I’m content to work my job or perform household chores, but I sure don’t enjoy having to fix things. I have studied physics, so I somewhat understand why unmaintained things tend toward disorder, which is to say, stuff will break down.
Objects offend me when they can’t keep their act together, and we rely on plenty of used and vintage devices in my household. When my wife tells me that the clothes dryer won’t start, that her wall-mounted 1960s lamp is making a weird crackling sound, or that flames are shooting out of the turn-of-the-century microwave…anyway, whatever it is, it animates those devices. Material things become annoying, ungrateful, nothing-better-to-do brats with the nerve to rob me of time and mental energy. They force me to work on something I didn’t plan on, just to return things to a normal state of operation.
By contrast, I suppose manual detail work invigorates some, whether at home or on the job—just the satisfaction of tinkering and problem solving, constructively defeating this aggressive negativity of the material world. I have also considered (by contrast to that contrast but in a non-double-negative way) that some individuals might fancy tools and tinkering to deconstruct instead.
I imagined this once while in an airplane waiting for takeoff, somewhat tired and bored. I studied the little hex-head nuts holding the seat together, and those bolting the seats to the floor. Hardware that requires an Allen wrench. Two sizes pretty much held together the cabin, and I thought, wait…someone could easily get a couple of those wrenches through TSA. And I envisioned this vandal-handyman taking his seat with Boarding Group 1 and commencing to loosen the cluster of seats in front of him. Not badly though, just enough that it would require a few more “rough air” episodes for them to become inoperable: all rickety, armrests not staying in place, food trays collapsing under the weight of hot coffees, the seats increasingly rattling off their mounts. And “The Vandyman” (his crime tag), with only a fanny pack of curated tools, travels from place to place on his mission either simply to annoy or perhaps to shore up the job security of maintenance persons everywhere.
So, upon reconsideration, rather than blaming inanimate objects for their own failings, it’s plausible and saner of me to imagine that such a person has been frequenting my home with his toolbag of tricks. I’m not losing my mind after all. I’m on to you, Vandyman, you and your skilled, misdirected manual labor—hands off our Toastmaster!
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