The Great Tag-Cutting Caper (Or, What Has It Got In Its Toolbox?)

Ok. I confess: I did it. I deliberately brought scissors into the bed & bathrooms & cut the tags off the new bedspread, pillow shams and towels. Not stopping there, I also carefully trimmed off the tags wrapped around the electrical wires, you know, the ones that say “URGENT! Do not run this appliance under water!” I don’t want to say the word “stoopid,” but hey now! How often do you run your wires through the shower when plugging things in? Do we really need a reminder?

Firstly, why are all the tags 4×6 inches? The instruction books are printed in .2 font – what I call “insurance font,” fitting 47 annotated pages onto four five-inch sheets stapled in the middle. The print looks rather like an insect walked through an ink jar, then across the itty-bitty booklet, turning around a couple of times to get comfortable. Don’t you love instruction manuals with one page in English, one in Hindi, one in French? You’ll never see one in Chinese because they made the thing there & don’t need instructions.

I am not one to take chances on doing repairs much, other than replacing the occasional lightbulb. My idea of a power tool is a long lighter. I’ve taken a picture of my “Hello Kitty” toolbox above. Look carefully. In the front are all the doodads (Latin term) I have no idea what they came with, but they were in little plastic bags, so they might be important. One never knows when a man will come into the house, notice something out of whack & ask, ‘where’s the doodad in the plastic bag that came with this?’ Momentarily, however, I keep them sealed in the original plastic & fully anticipate they will remain tidily so for eternity.

There are a couple of flat metal things. Ditto on the having absolutely no clue what they are from, but may be plumbing, so better keep ‘em. The day I moved into this apartment, a spigot-thingie fell right off whatever it was attached to under the bathroom sink. I saved it under the cabinet for when the landlord cometh, because I could lie on my back under the sink for three hours & now know from whence it unscrewed itself. And why on MY watch?

Then there’s a layer of unknown wires – plugs to nowhere – like that Bridge to Nowhere in Alaska. Don’t you hate to throw away a good wire? It can’t be just me. I know when I worked in the thrift store in Delaware, bags of wires came thru the slot daily. We simply tagged them 50 cents & put them onto the special rack with Useless Unknowns. Once in a while, someone would come in & say, “Hey! Don’t you realize this wire plugs in the Christmas Tree on the White House lawn? And you have it marked fifty cents?” All the ladies nearby this person would round on him (always a guy) with fingers across lips. We marked it that to get rid of it. If you want to buy it & use the rest of your dollar on postage to DC, be our guest, but shut up already because if the manager hears you, he’ll make us mark it up & it will be in the store until death do us part.

Ok, Hello Kitty. There’s three elastic bands for fastening down tablecloths on outside tables or, what I bought them for, to hold down flat sheets on a massage table so they won’t roll over with the client. However, immediately after purchasing them, I realized I should just buy fitted sheets. See? Not totally stupid, merely unskilled in the arcane.

There are two packages of picture hooks, the little gold ones. I need two packages because most of the nails fall down behind the floor heating units, or into the carpet, upon which they immediately & mysteriously become invisible to the human eye. For every hook I get into the wall, four nails have gone stealth in the universe. I could no more drive a straight nail than I could build a house with plumbing that worked…but you may have garnered this from the sparse collection of functional items in the toolkit. But if the occasion ever does arise, I have a little spigot thingie to start the ball rolling.

Make sure you gaze with envy at the $17 tape measure which is too heavy to hold in one hand while using it to measure. A boyfriend of long ago remarked disdainfully on my using cloth sewing tapes. Hell, I can’t measure anything without closing my eyes & doing it six times, so what use to have a real tape measure? But, stung by his mockery, I made it a point to buy the most expensive one at the hardware store, made for manly men with the pecs & biceps to hold it over their heads while they use their monkey arms to pull it out to five feet so they can say, “Take this down, honey, I think it’s 5 & ¾ across & 67 down. Well, dude, I know from my own experience things don’t come in 67 down. The world has standard weights & measures & no amount of influence of the European Union is going to introduce meters & litres into America. Uh uh, no way. 67 down indeed. Is this guy doing a crossword puzzle?

I have an Exacto which I use VERY carefully & always facing away from me, with visions of slicing clear through 6” of skin & bleeding out over the cardboard box from Amazon (that clearly says, DO NOT CUT.).

There’s a car adapter for plugging in the computer which the boyfriend mentioned above used once on a long trip. That cost $25 & I am not parting with it. Note it is in original packaging. The thrift store that winds up with that upon my passing will definitely get fifty cents for it.

I have a couple of packages of the Command magic tape sticks because these are my go-to hanging hardware. It is a miracle to have the option to rip something right off the wall to straighten it when it’s hanging crooked because my one eye is near-sighted & the other far-sighted which renders properties like depth perception uncertain in real-time & impossible otherwise. My goal in hanging stuff is to keep the margin at that ¾” minimum tilt I mentioned…the eye perceives it, but it’s not enough for most people to actually say something about. Look, this is not my lifetime to be handy; I was meant for other duties of a more intellectual bent. This means that I am helpless in fixing anything unless I can sell enough words to pay someone else to come in & DO.

I once had a friend who wore a toolbelt made of leather & a painter’s hat. She’d strut around nailing this & bulletproofing that. She once planted 100 trees in the desert which her husband let die right after she left him. Oh, not right away, it took a little time, but not watering 100 baby trees in the desert usually kills ’em. I remember that when she walked by in full gear, I almost fell to my knees. I liked her up until the time she told me the best way to discipline my panting dog was to stick her finger down his throat.

My toolkit is colorful, mysterious, decorative & seldom of use. If repair guys don’t bring their own tools (and be assured I watch to see what they pull out of their trucks. If they’re empty-handed, I run old excuses, trying to remember which ones worked with the last handyman.) Recently a fix-it guy who here to hang pictures assumed I’d have a hammer. In this we both were lucky. I do have a hammer & it works. How about it? (When he asked if I had one, he looked a bit quizzical when I replied under my breath, “barely.”)

I don’t expect anyone in the general population to dig up my little plastic bin of gadgetry & rebuild a town after an earthquake. I probably should tape a couple of prayers on the lid, since these would be more useful – like praying for someone to come by with real tools.

And I fully intend to cut the tags off whatever & wherever I find them. If you want to report me to the Tag Police, have at it. If they don’t come in with a toolkit, they can’t take me to jail.

So there!


One thought on “The Great Tag-Cutting Caper (Or, What Has It Got In Its Toolbox?)

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  1. Fun one. I can relate to some parts and the other parts made me feel like a superior being since Bill always has to measure to hang pictures and I just eyeball the wall and have at it with far more success than he. I also have cut all the tags from everything that came with one, which made me feel quite adventurous as I tried to figure out how the manufacturer would know I had removed them. Do they have little sensors in them which record your location and transmit it back to the factory from whence it came? No matter… I love this post and look forward to the next one.


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