Don't Do It Yourself
Being the least handy guy in the world, or at least in southwestern Ohio, I should have known better. But, in exchange for a $50 reduction in a contractor’s fee, I agreed to rip up the carpet in my living room so he could polish the hardwood flooring underneath. I would have done better to pay him $150 to do it for me. Here’s why:
The day before the contractor’s work was to begin, I stopped at the neighborhood hardware store and inquired about carpet removal. I assumed some special tools were required, but no. The sales clerk pointed to a bucket of utility knives and said, “You just need one of those.”
“Oh,” I said, and then chose a bright green one.
Walking back to my car, I flicked the blade in and out, fantasizing about the multi-tiered deck that I would build someday with my utility knife and the other two tools I owned--a hammer and a screwdriver.
I got inside my black Honda Accord, only to discover that it wouldn’t start. The key turned, but the engine wouldn’t engage. I tried again. Nothing. I tried yet again. Still nothing. I then did what seemed perfectly reasonable in that moment: I slid the tip of the blade out of the utility knife, pointed it at the steering wheel and said, “You better start, or I will stab your sorry ass!” That didn’t work, of course, so with my sanity apparently still browsing in the hardware store I intensified my threat: “Start now or you’ll wish you never rolled off the assembly line, you greasy, four-wheeled bastard!”
As I uttered those words, something caught my attention on the passenger’s seat. It was a woman’s straw hat. One I had never seen before, ever. That’s when it hit me: I was in someone else’s car. In broad daylight. With a fluorescent knife shouting like a man who shouldn’t even be allowed near a sharp pencil.
My flight instinct kicked in. Unfortunately, my keys were stuck in the car’s ignition. There was no getting them out.
Panicked, I looked all around to see if anyone might be approaching the car, wondering why a screaming, knife wielding lunatic was sitting inside. That’s when I noticed a bunch of books in the backseat, strong evidence that the car likely belonged to someone working in the public library a few doors down from the hardware store.
I abandoned the car, and my keys, and ran toward the library. I approached the first librarian I saw. It turned out to be her car--my one and only bit of luck that day.The librarian loaned me her phone (mine was locked in my car) and I called a locksmith About 30 minutes later he pulled up in his van, making no effort to hide his amusement.
The locksmith removed my keys and handed them to me, along with an invoice. What was supposed to save me $50, ending up costing me $150 for his “emergency service,” plus the $2.49 for the utility knife, which, by the way, worked wonderfully. Or so my handy Uncle Tony told me. I paid him $75 to take up my carpet.