Sunday, August 19, 2012

Teaching me patience? Really?

My father and I had an amazing relationship. We lost him 5 years ago after he had battled cancer for about a year. I miss him everyday and for those of you who don't know yet, CANCER SUX. Having said (written) that, one of the things I miss most is our time together doing "projects." Through my dad, I learned some wood-working, carpentry and basic "handy" skills. From a very young age, daddy had us help him with whatever project he was doing. When we were little, helping usually meant: "hold this for me," or "hand me that hammer," or "what was the length of that supposed to be?"  Then as we got older, we advanced to actually doing the measuring and cutting and checking for square and plumb; (for me, square and plumb are more relative terms but daddy was a perfectionist). Together we built shops and a garage; we constructed patios and put roofs over them; and we built furniture. With the furniture, I usually did the designing and we worked together on the construction. God, I miss him.

OK, that brings me to today. I designed a pretty cool nightstand a while back and decided that I'd build one today. The thing that makes it unique is that I'm putting in a hinged top with a locking mechanism that is accessible from a drawer in the front. When you open the locking mechanism, the top pulls up to reveal a hidden compartment in the back for storing stuff. There is a "false back" that you see and interpret as the back of the cabinet when the nightstand top is down and in place. (I'll post pics later). 

One of the perks of the mega-hardware chain stores is that they will make your cuts for you if you ask them. I spent considerable time calculating and diagramming the cuts I wanted them to make for me out of a piece of plywood. So, drawing-in-hand, off I go to the mega-hardware chain store. The man working the saw was very nice and very friendly and I thought OH HAPPY DAY, I finally found someone who knows customer service and is going to make this an enjoyable experience. (The biggest complaint about mega-hardware chain stores is that they have terrible customer service and, in fact, often have no one working in the departments where they are needed). So I selected the plywood, gave the nice and friendly man my drawings and prepared to watch him make my cuts.


I knew I was in trouble when he looked at the drawing of the 4 x 8 plywood (drawn to scale), and turned it 360 degrees in his hand. Uh-oh. He asked me about which side I wanted him to start the cuts. I thought that was sort of strange, really I didn't care, and didn't know why that mattered as long as he made the cuts with the identified dimensions, but I decided that he was probably just trying to make me feel engaged. I suggested a first cut, which he made, but then he lined the sheet up to repeat the same cut. I stopped him and asked what he was doing. He pointed to the drawing and asked, don't you want two of them? "No", I replied, "you just need to cut the one" and pointed to the applicable part of the drawing. At this point, I should have thanked him kindly and done the cuts myself at home. But, its just so nice to have them done there so they have a better chance of being square, (remember, left to my own devices, plumb and square are pretty relative terms).  You know where this is going, yep, since we were clearly not speaking the same language and he clearly did not understand plans (drawn to scale) etc, his second cut was wrong and caused me to reconfigure my drawing in an attempt to salvage as much as I could from the plywood. I decided to just have him make cuts that were rough approximations, then I brought them home and finessed as needed. He thanked me kindly for my business, apologized for his misunderstanding and sent me on my way. Ugh! 

All I kept thinking, while trying to conceal my frustration and my growing annoyance so as not to become a raving lunatic, was "Lord, are you really still trying to teach me patience?"      


  1. Hey, Lo, you've more patience that I do. I would have pushed him out of the way, taken the saw in hand and said, "Watch closely grasshopper, someday you too can follow directions." Or maybe not ... a punch on the nose would have been gratifying too. :-)

  2. I asked a guy at one of the chain stores to cut a piece of plywood so that I had a piece a certain width. When I got home with it I discovered he did not know the issue about cutting outside the line vs on the line vs inside the line. My piece was a tad short. I had measured exactly so that I didn't have to cut tile for a counter I was tiling. I had to adjust my tile spacing some. I only ask them to cut it now to make it easier to fit in the truck or if the exact measurement isn't that important. I guess those guys don't watch a lot of DYI shows.