Swinging a Hammer to Save my Life and Augment my Height

A Personal Essay About Measuring Up to my Little Sister

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

I spent close to a decade as a construction manager, even though I can’t swing a hammer to save my life. And I mean it. I am the least handy person you will ever meet. I like to blame my dad because he wasn’t around when I was growing up. I also sometimes blame Colombian society because regardless of what your status was, you could always hire someone. Even our help had help. So I never really experienced the necessity to learn the art of pounding a nail into the wall.

But it wasn’t either of their faults. I just wasn’t all that interested in learning. I choose instead to wander around the streets with my friends getting into fights with other kids, playing soccer, climbing roofs. Essentially I was busy being a boy.

But I can’t swing a hammer to save my life. I’ve tried. I have been the man of the house for way too long. I was promoted to the job at 8 when my parents divorced. That’s what my mom would always tell me, and I took the job seriously.

Part of the job description was investigating loud noises coming through the house, which I never ran away from.

If I heard a noise, I couldn’t expect my mom or my younger sister to find out what was going. It was up to me. I always excelled at this part of the job. Always waking up and running toward noises even though I never knew what awaited. So far, nothing.

When I moved in with Justine, I knew that I would also be responsible for her and, eventually, our family. So at different times, I have gone to bed storing in my bedside table everyday household items that can be turned into weaponry if needed.

I have stored there my camping knife even though I never camp. The knife for soft cheeses — the one with the green marble handle we got as a gift. Or a stainless steel pan — which is only weird when the pan is bigger than 8 inches. I have never violated the size requirement, and it is not gross because it is stainless steel that has been meticulously seasoned for over 45 minutes.

And also hammers. Sometimes regular size, sometimes small size. Like the one that my father-in-law gave me. Who when he found out I didn’t have my own toolbox, took it upon himself to get me one.

Maybe somebody would’ve been offended by the toolbox. It was a craftsman set, and every tool had a matching green and gray color. It looked like something you would get a kid to ensure when he grew up, he would be handy — which I wasn’t.

Maybe somebody would’ve been offended by the toolbox. But I wasn’t. Why can’t you look good when you are completing the honey-do list around the house? Which I am not allowed to.

My privileges were revoked from me when we moved out of our apartment in San Diego, and we brought down the frames we’ve hung. My craftwork was on full display. Our walls were immaculate except for where frames used to be and those portions of the wall were covered in holes like swiss cheese, and we were at an incredible risk of losing our deposit.

First Published by Woodworkers of the World Unite!! Read the rest of the essay here.

……………………

Carlos Garbiras
Navigating life through personal essays and opinion pieces on communication psychology and relationships.
Read more at garbiras.medium.com and instagram.com/garbiras

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