Certainly I am not the first person to recognize that there is essentially a curse associated with the blessing of being handy. Handy implies having a broad array of skills which can address common problems. You can be skilled at electronics or an expert with needle and thread, but when you’re “handy” you can solve the everyday maintenance problems that routinely come up in our increasingly technical way of life, like mending a pair of electric sox.

It’s a blessing because there is an element of self-sufficiency that usually saves time and money. That’s the general idea. People are always saying, “Oh, I wish I could fix that lamp myself” or “My father tried to teach me how to build rockets but I never listened.” People want to be handy just like they wish they could play the piano. But like they say, if wishes were skills even idiots could fix leaky faucets and play the piano. (However, I have yet to hear one person say, “What I wouldn’t give to be able to snake a toilet and make it flush again like you do.” People do limit their dreams.)

The curse comes into play when people start making requests for your special talent assuming that what is monumental to them is trivial to you. The more broad your skills, the more requests you are likely to get. Sometimes the curse does not even involve other people. Problems just present themselves when you pull that knob off the door or when your mower won’t start. Other people would call for service but, because you’re handy, you have to deal with these problems yourself.

A toilet is running, a stair tread is loose, a car battery cable is broken, a lawnmower is dull, a sink is slow to drain, a door won’t latch, the computer won’t connect to the internet — and this is just what I had to address yesterday afternoon. It’s exhausting. I dare not run into my wife, who maintains a list of problems that need addressing whenever she detects I have personal time that needs filling. This usually happens when I make direct eye contact with her, however briefly.

Being handy also implies having the tools to actually practice your handiness. Of course a knife and duct tape are paramount, but you must have at least a smattering of tools from a lot of the trades. There are drywall and plumbing tools, electrical tools and a seemingly endless collection of specialty tools for every skill you might have or imagine you have. This leads to multiple toolboxes. One might be devoted to plumbing, another for electrical jobs. I have one for hard-wired telephone and cable work and a separate tool box just for — how did it come to this — sewing.

And naturally, the handy person starts collecting parts and pieces that will come in handy on some future job. Over time, this is an increasingly large part of the curse. If you do electrical work you will surely have some extra switches, lamp parts and receptacles hanging about the house — and wire, electrical connectors, boxes, conduits and every other category of items you may find down the four aisles of electrical stuff at the Home Depot.

There will be screws, nails, nuts and bolts both English and metric, door parts, tubing for fuel oil, spare pipes for sump pumps, paints and all kinds of caulk in a variety of colors for a wide array of functions. Soon your handiness has filled your workshop and maybe even your house. Your extreme cleverness has rendered you a borderline hoarder, constantly occupied and living in a warehouse of potentially useful materials. Since you can perform all of life’s maintenance tasks, you are incapable of assigning the job to anyone else.

How’s being handy working out for you now?

I’m not sure how all this ends yet. My daughter is strongly hinting that it all be squared away so that she does not have to deal with it in case I am called to heaven to snake plugged toilets. But heaven wouldn’t have plugged toilets, would it? And if it did, they would be a pleasure to repair. Or maybe they have handy people that come up from hell to do the nasty maintenance. That would be hell: to come to heaven just to do the dirty work with no relief in sight. It’s a little like what I do now. Hmmm.…