A Worker in Progress

Of you live alone, as I do (excepting the cat and the mutt) you learn to rely on yourself in ways you probably didn’t have to when other humans were part of your household.  Aside from taxes, insurance, and similar annoyances, you get to deal with real hands-on projects around the house.  Previously, for me, this has meant primarily planning and shopping for the decor, etc., while hiring others to do the actual work.  Since moving into my present digs, however, I’ve taken on more responsibility for getting the place set up to my taste.  This means I’ve become a do-it-yourselfer, a member of the D-I-Y Club, a.k.a. the WWIT (What Was I Thinking?) Club, or the MTCOSUA (Measured Twice, Cut Once, Screwed Up Anyway) Club.

In my three years here I’ve painted all the rooms, upstairs and down (two coats, walls and ceilings) and, among other things, made lamp shades for the chandelier, installed blinds in the living and dining rooms, installed drapery rods and made lined draperies for them, too. (If I ever think of doing that again, someone just shoot me.)  I’ve also installed blinds in the kitchen and made valances to coordinate with the chair cushions I reupholstered.  I’ve changed out bathroom hardware, installed rows of shelving in several closets, and put up decorative shelving in most of the rooms.  I’ve installed window treatments in the office and den.  I’m now working on my bedroom windows.  So far this has been one of my most frustrating projects yet.


All Screwed Up

I ordered two light-blocking roller shades to replace the white metal mini-blinds that leaked light from the street lamp like a sieve.  The first day I removed those tacky metal dust catchers, filled the holes, sanded and painted over them.  On day two, I marked and drilled two holes for the first bracket.  Here’s where the trouble began.  Grunt and strain as I might, I couldn’t force my drill to penetrate the surface behind the drywall.  I repositioned the bracket forward, marked the holes, and drilled again.  Same result.  I filled the holes and painted over them, went out to the garage and found a package of shorter screws and anchors.

Back upstairs, I drilled again on the opposite side of the window casement, tapped in the plastic anchors, positioned the bracket, and . . . Son-of-a—!  Somehow I had mis-measured (see MTCOSUA above) and the second, lower screw hole was partially covered by the bracket.  I got out the needle-nose pliers and pulled out the anchor, filled the hole, sanded, and re-painted.  Enough of this!  I had dinner and called it a day.

The third day I tried again.  Ta-da! I set the rollers in the brackets and—Ta-da! again—they actually rolled up and down just as they were meant to do.


Cover Story

According to the instructions the next step was to install the bracket covers until they clicked into place.  I pushed, I strained, I mumbled and strained some more.  I huffed, I puffed, I struggled and mumbled even louder.  I read and reread the instructions.  I tried to adjust, adapt, refit, modify, realign—nothing worked.  Finally, sweating, swearing, and frustrated, I admitted defeat and called the company where I ordered these freaking roller shades.

The customer service rep was very pleasant as we went over the instructions, which, it turns out, are a one-size-fits-all number.  What’s more, the “covers” (which came attached to the brackets) were just packing material to keep the brackets together.  They were rubber banded and in a bag; how much more together did they have to be?  Since my shades are “inside mount” I don’t need bracket covers anyway.  Pitch those.  “Were these things made in China?” I asked.  The rep said they weren’t.  “Okay, what about these little plastic, gear-toothed wheel thing-ys?”  Those, he said, “keep the bead chain taut to prevent children from strangling.”  (I’d like to strangle the guy who concocted this mess!)  Pitch those.  “The hold-downs are supposed to come with two screws each but there aren’t any at all.”  By now the rep was probably wishing he was flipping burgers at McDonald’s.  “We’re trying to come up with better instructions to take care of these problems,” he offered.

So, I installed the hold-downs (one screw each) and pulled the chains.  Everything worked.  Three days for a three hour job!


It Ain’t Over Yet

Before putting the tools away I fixed one of the living room blinds (a pull-cord had come untied and slipped through the gears).  Another job that took more time and effort than it should have.  I had dinner, took a shower, and called it a day.

This week I’m scheduled for a colonoscopy.  I’ve decided to forgo the D-I-Y route.  Some jobs are just better left to the pros.



© 2012, The Wit’s End Scribbler

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  1. Interesting commentary and glad you’re not doing a DIY colonoscopy. I think you should call the customer service rep back and offer your services as a technical writer. They could tell you how to do it on the phone, and then you could decipher their gibberish and write some instruction manuals for them. Better yet, you could work for money or free blinds!

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