Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Life lessons from a busted doorknob
I’m not sure if we’ve been over this or not, but I’m not a handy person. What I am is a stubborn person who will avoid asking for help long past the point when basic common sense would indicate it to be the proper course. Occasionally this stubbornness will result in me eventually fixing something around the house, probably in double or triple the amount of time it would have taken someone who knew what they were doing to fix. The rest of the time I either end up breaking something or learning to live with it in its un-fixed. When I’m successful, an outsider may think: “Hey, you fixed that! Way to go, Tool Man!” But to anyone in the know, the reaction would be more along the lines of Col. Kurtz at the end of “Heart of Darkness.” “It took you how long? To do what now? The horror. The horror.” 
Case in point: My recent battle with a loose bathroom doorknob. Peter Jackson himself could not have concocted something more epically over-wrought.
So yeah, the knob on my bathroom door has been getting looser over the last several months. I’d say the primary cause of this is my one cat who insists on continually rubbing his head on the door, which in turn drives the door – and the door knob – back against the tile wall at a decent rate of speed. Repeat that process several thousand times and you get a door knob that’s pretty well ready to fall off.
Every so often, I’d notice it and give a half-hearted attempted to fix it. I’d grab each side by the base and sort of twist them in opposite directions, my intention being to tighten it that way. I had no idea if this was the proper way to fix it or not, but what the hell?

Now, why didn’t I just tighten it with a screw driver? It’s one of those weird ones with the hidden screws, but good question. I’m glad we could get that cleared up early.
After weeks of me doing that and weeks of nothing really getting better, my fiancée said something to the effect of “Huh, looks like the doorknob is broken” this past weekend. That was it. Just a simple observation. However, as is convention, when someone says something’s broken around you, as a man with even a smattering of facial hair, you are obligated to give it a proper look-see. No longer will half-assed twisting be accepted.
I postponed the run I was about to go for, dug out a screwdriver and headed to the bathroom.
My first thought: “Let me twist this sucker back into place.” For some reason I was convinced that was the solution and I just hadn’t been putting enough elbow grease into it. Several moments passed. The doorknob was still loose and I’d broken into a sweat. It was roughly 113 degrees on Saturday in my part of the world. Factor in the humidity and the temperature was easily pushing the 200s.
I gave it one last good twist … and then the whole thing fell apart. The back half came off of the front half. I wasn’t terrified. I saw this as progress. I spent several minutes working out how to reassemble it on my lap, without that pesky door involved. Turns out, I was right. All you had to do was Chuck Berry it back together. I assembled it and disassembled it a few times and then decided I was ready for the show. I went to put it back on the door knob.
Somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 minutes of fruitless trying later, I went and got my cell phone. I went to Youtube. I opened a video put out by the doorknob’s maker. A few minutes in, it seemed to confirm my twisting hypothesis. I wasn’t sure why twisting it together on my lap work, but doing so on the door didn’t.
With renewed vigor, I exited out of the still playing video and attacked the door once again. Many more minutes went by. I was soaked through like a man attempting to disarm a bomb. Eventually, something clicked and the thing held. I was victorious. I was also exhausted. I went for my run, but instead of my planned eight miles, I did five. The heat had bested me, but I had bested the doorknob.
At least I had until the next day. I went in to the bathroom to take a shower and the whole thing once again fell apart. I sat down on the toilet in defeat. I opened the manufacturer’s video on my phone to try to uncover what I’d done wrong. I watched the whole thing. Turns out, there were many, many steps involved in the process of assembling that type of door knob and that twisting with all your might was a not effective strategy.
Upon the conclusion of the video, I followed the steps as they’d been laid out for me. I won. For reals that time. It’s important to note, turning to the manufacturer’s video wasn’t me asking for help. No more than utilizing my car’s owner’s manual to help me change things is asking for help. It’s simply leveraging the non-human resources at my disposal to help me solve a problem. The key, of course, being non-human. 

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