Suffield Observations

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All in a day’s man work

Andy Sauer

A couple of years ago, our water heater kicked the bucket on a Saturday morning.

We have an expression in our home: That’s man work. Taking out the garbage is man work. Setting and emptying mousetraps, man work. Clearing out gutters, man work. Clogged toilet, man work. So many man work chores, some of which have yet to be identified, fell upon me the day I accepted the mantel of pater familias.

Restoring hot water was clearly man work.

The easy answer was to hire a professional, but I knew if I called someone cold to replace the water heater, it could mean days without hot water (an insufferable state for my family) and leave me with a sizable expense that would inversely reflect on my masculinity upon the retelling of events.

There had to be a better way.

Hot water heaters are sold off the shelves for dauntless do-it-yourselfers. Man work one man can do, another man can do. I vaguely recall my stepfather installing a water heater in what appeared to be a simple project, but I clearly missed my opportunity for critical man work knowledge to be revealed.

This was a moment where my weaknesses lay brutally exposed. I have no man work mentor or sensei to whom I can call upon to reveal man work mysteries. I am alone in my man work morass.
Behold the magic of YouTube.

There are dozens of do-it-yourselfers eager to impart the lost arts of man work via a 10-minute video. Want to replace a window? There’s a video for that. Want to replace the belt on your specific brand of dryer? There’s a video for that too. What’s the best method to split wood? Want to learn how to tie a trucker’s hitch knot? Need to repressurize well water storage tank? There is no limit to the man work knowledge base.

You may be someone who was mentored into adulthood with all its useful tools and skills by a family member or friend in that iconic Norman Rockwell, American scenario. And, maybe, you’re still able to call on that man work guru when something stumps you. Count yourself fortunate and blessed. Not everyone has that kind of person in their life.

There are a lot of us who need to pick up on the secrets of man work on our own. If the only way to be taught man work is to suffer a few advertisements for insurance companies and travel web sites, then so be it. At least we have the luxury of pausing, fast-forwarding or replaying wisdom imparted without being admonished for momentary lapses in attention.

In the case of our busted water heater, I was taught in less than 10 minutes not only how to replace it but how to make it easier to replace the next one in the event another hot water crisis ever rears its ugly head on my watch. The job was so quick I don’t think any of the females in my life even knew the hot water was out. But, that’s the tradeoff.

A good day is a day NOT being told that man work needs to be done.

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