Handyman Exposed
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It should never have been so difficult. But, of course, it was. One morning, when I reached inside a kitchen cabinet for coffee, the cabinet door came off in my hand. One of the hinges had broken. I reached inside and got my coffee with one hand, while holding the cabinet door with the other. I held the cabinet door a few moments, until I realized I would have to stand there all day to keep the door from falling.

I decided to let it go, slowly. The door reached down until it almost touched the kitchen counter. It hung there—like Florida, but sadder. I decided I should remove the remaining hinge. That would solve the Florida problem, and I could repair the broken hinge in the bargain. Immediately, I realized there was another problem. I didn’t have any extra hinges on hand.

When my wife came into the kitchen, she asked what had happened to the cabinet door. I explained. It could have been worse, I said. After all, we knew someone whose entire kitchen cabinet, the one that held their good china, had fallen off the wall. We felt fortunate that our problem was so small and easy to fix.

Or so I thought. We went the entire week, or maybe three, with the cabinet door removed. It stood against the wall, waiting to be fixed. One day, I drove to Home Depot. They had at least ten million hinges, but not one matched ours. The helpful clerk suggested that I go to a rather upscale hardware store, as they would carry the brand I needed.

I’m not proud to say that I didn’t go to the upscale store right away. My life was busy, and the broken hinge was low on the totem pole of my responsibilities. Months passed.

“When are you going to fix it?” my wife asked one day.

“Soon,” I told her.

My hinge problem was simple enough, but to remedy it tested me. I am, how shall I say, an artistic person. I write stories and plays. I am not a handyman, though I wish I could say I was. I wondered if I could hire someone to come in and repair the broken hinge.

“Hire someone to repair one hinge?” my wife asked.

Her tone was sufficient. This was something I had to do myself. I set out for the upscale hardware store. The man there was nice, but he did not have the hinge I needed. He wrote down the name of a cabinet company and assured me they would have the hinge. He sent people there often, in fact. I drove fifteen miles in heavy traffic to the far west side of the city to the fabled cabinet company. I brought the broken hinge along, hoping to match it. But when I showed the hinge to the clerk, he shook his head and said they didn’t carry the brand. He said there was another company, on the far north end of town, and they carried the brand I needed. He wrote down the information.

Some weeks later, I drove to the cabinet company on the north side of town. I was wary, so I called ahead. They carried my hinge. I thought to myself, this will all be over soon. After much traffic and many miles, I entered the cabinet company office.

“How many pairs?” the woman wanted to know.

I thought about it. I should probably get a few extra hinges, in case some of the others broke. There were two hinges to a door, I knew. “Two sets,” I said, almost defiantly.

“We require a twenty-five dollar minimum purchase,” the woman announced. “This won’t add up to seven dollars. You don’t need any wood glue, do you?”

I didn’t think I needed wood glue, though that might fatten the bill. But I seriously needed that hinge. And, who knows, if one hinge had already broken, others might follow suit soon enough. If I walked out of that office in disgust, which is what I wanted to do, I would be back where I started.

“Give me twenty-five dollars worth of hinges,” I said. Back at home, reviewing my newly purchased treasure, I noticed that no screws had been included. I had to go to the hardware store. I picked a fresh hardware store, one I had not yet visited. Another customer stood next to me as we surveyed the screws.

“Confusing, isn’t it?” I said, trying to make pleasant conversation.

He didn’t reply. Instead, he gave me a cold stare.

Home with my new purchase of screws, I went to work. I hung that cabinet door. Goodbye, Florida. I put the extra twenty hinges in a kitchen drawer. Those hinges would outlive me, I knew.

When my wife came home, she marveled at the restored cabinet door.

“At last,” she said. “You are some handyman.”

“Tell me about it,” I said.

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