Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Breaking a man's tool

On our recent spring-break-o-rama, we took the girls to the Discovery Center of Springfield, in Missouri.

I dig these types of interactive science-based ankle biter museums as most geeky fathers (who have yet to grow up) do.

You know you're out there, men, so speak up.

The girls dug it, S tolerated it, and I bounced from display to display, finding one experiment cooler than the next.

C took to one hands-on exhibit more than the others -- it was a huge magnet in a trayful of sand, and stuck to the magnet was oodles and oodles of black iron ore micro nuggets.

She was fascinated by every aspect of the display, the "stickiness" of the "black stuff" to the magnet, how you could mold it into shapes, the black color, the texture, and most of all, by the fact that the iron ore was hiding in the sand, just waiting for a person with a magnetic personality to free it from it's granular bounds.

Once I told her that we could perform the same ore mining activity in her sand box when we got home, she was hooked and became obsessive/compulsive girl at the prospect of finding the same black gold in her very own golf course hazard in a box.

The road trip eventually ended, we eventually came home and I was eventually searching in my garage for a suitable ore mining magnet as C excitedly hopped up and down 14 dozen times or so.

Then the mistake occurred. I gave her my tool.

It was a muscular, telescoping pick-up tool, with a stainless steel shaft, cushioned grip, and handy pocket clip.

He (cars are "she", tools are "he") had a nuclear powered 16 lb. magnet on the end, capable of lifting up engine blocks, houses off their foundations, or stray bolts that had fallen out of reach under the engine compartment. I had picked this tool up at an auto swap meet some years ago and it one of those tools that you didn't use every day, but when you did need it, it became a time-saving, back-sustaining, profanity-suspending life saver."Daddy, I broke something..."
My 6-year old version of Tim "The Toolman" Tayler had managed to lose the magnet when she was attempting to hammer (yes hammer), the stainless steel shaft of the telescoping pick-up she had accidentally bent, back into shape. The hammering caused more damage that it had originally intended to fix, providing additional bends, tweaks and dents under the careful hands of my daughter.

Rendering my beloved tool beyond repair.

This is me, counting to ten...

Tools can be replaced (most of them). Memories such as this can't.

Best part of the whole deal was when C slyly told me that it was MY fault that it was broken, since I was the one who let her use it.

Now, where did she learn that behavior?


gawfer said...

Dear Brother,

My heart is with you. I have always felt that tools, especially those hand tools of such a rare vintage, don’t belong in a tool box per say, but on display in an antique curio cabinet located in the family room next to the wife’s china cabinet.

The precious memories we have of the first Snap-on socket set with a swivel head 3/8” drive ratchet, or the fine taper of a Mac screwdriver that fits so perfectly in your hand, should be available for anyone to see and appreciate. (Please look, but don’t touch), and (no, I’m sorry, but I don’t lone them out… to anyone)…(ever).

Sometimes it’s hard to be a man and a father at the same time. The man part says “TOOLS, O, O, O,” and the father part says, “Protect my children”. I feel your pain. I only hope you’re able to come to terms with your loss, and the blame that was so genuinely placed upon your shoulders.

OKDad said...

No, one, and I mean one touches any of my precious and few Snap-on tools.

I have so few that they are tucked away safe and sound in a separate tool box in a separate part of my garage along with my clicking torque wrenches and engine assembly tools (no telling what the girls would do with my piston ring compressor or dial bore gauge).

I am even sometimes intimidated to use the revered Snap-On labeled works of art, but alas, that's what tools are for.

The Crafstman's are my daily driver tools, so to speak. I've even let C use the Sear's brand screwdrivers to pull some weeds.

gawfer said...

One of my greatest heartbreaks, was when, after our move from Nor Cal to So Cal, I needed a 7/16" deep socket. Reaching for my oh so anal socket rail, I discovered that an empty slot occupies the home of that particular socket. Christian values kept me in the proper frame of mind... barely. I am still upset and haven't replaced that gem yet. That was to only casualty that I found from the move to date. But that cabinet that is home to more than $2000 worth of Snap-on, Mack and Matco tools remains off limits to all who enter the garage.

BTW, have you checked out the Matco combo wrenches? Blue chrome and very ergonomic. I have those in metric.

Petaluma K said...

Ahh tools...yeah I remember how my dad had a nice socket wrench once...and then my brother was having some trouble with a stubborn bolt under his pickup truck and decided he needed a bit more force. Well a 3 foot extension on a 1/2" socket wrench does great wonders for the gears.

Though on the other hand the hammer is like a shovel as the young brother decided that his watch which had gone dead (battery) was broken so smashing it with the shovel was a good idea.

Tools are great...being organized with them also where did I put that hammer?

OKDad said...

My old boss felt my pain and loss so much so that he saw fit to donate to my cause and replaced the dead and buried tool highlighted in this post with another fine example of the breed.

Other than thank you, all I have to say to him is,

"uhh, I had one of these too, but my oldest daughter got into, somehow got it out of gear, and rolled it into oncoming traffic."

I'm thinking that if it felt good replacing my dented and broken pick up tool, just think how terrific it'll feel replacing my dead Cobra.

Oh and Dave, I like the traditional Shelby white with blue stripes. Just so you know.