FOTOS INC — Don’t touch that dial or drill or screwdriver

Mark Brett shares stories at his attempts to be a handy man

Okay, this one’s called do it yourself (DIY) and why I DON’T.

Yes, I admire these, often self-trained, men and women who are able to tear apart and reassemble a car engine on their lunch breaks.

Then there’s my brother-in-law Marty who, despite having only one arm, single handedly built us a wrap-around deck in a matter of days

My ineptitude in being able to complete even the most simple projects was drilled home when Marty actually fired me when I was helping him re-shingle our shed roof.

But then again, it was not unexpected as I seemed to be making things worse rather than easing the burden.

For me this has been a learning (the hard way) experience about what I can and, more importantly, cannot do around the house in terms of repairs and renovations and sadly, even basic maintenance.

There was a time when I foolishly believed it was a gender-given right to tackle any project and succeed, I guess much the same as not needing to ask directions when driving.

These days when I see an advertisement for anything containing the term, “Handyman Special” I quickly turn the page.

While this space should not be dedicated to true confessions, I feel it is important to wipe the slate clean of some of the more unbelievable blunders.

And as my wife will swear on a stack of bankbooks, the following stories are true, I mean, after all, you can’t make this stuff up.

Well, I guess it’s good for the economy and surprisingly, especially in the case of the electrical disasters, no one was injured and the power was restored to much of the neighbourhood quite quickly.

On the maintenance side, the Furnace Filter Fiasco will go down in the books as one of the best (worst).

I understand this particular incident did go viral in Furnace Guys’ social media and is a favourite story “Did I tell you about the time…” at their regular conventions.

In this case, for two years I diligently changed the filter located on the right side of the appliance. Strangely however, each time it never really seemed that dirty.

Eventually we had a Furnace Guy come over to do a tune up.

When he finished and I was writing a cheque for the work, he said everything looked fine but I really should change the filter more often.

He then held up what appeared to be a large, hairy (we had a lot of cats then) item that was the colour of a tea bag.

When I argued I regularly put a new filter in he asked where I had taken the used one from and I pointed to the location, which was actually empty.

With what I now believe were super human powers he remained stoic, informing me I had been changing the spare filter.


While I was eventually able to successfully put in a light fixture without causing a nation-wide blackout I took on a challenge of much greater and dangerous proportions, The Ceiling Fan.

The end result in my case when I turned it on was the equivalent of being locked in a small room with a radio-controlled model helicopter.

This takes me to the professionals who come in and clean up the mess, which more often than not simply involved flipping a breaker switch ($100 well spent).

To me, what makes these people professionals is as much their ability to keep a straight face as it is to correct the problem.

Case in point is the Furnace Guy.

At least now I know when the work van remains in the driveway for a little longer than it should, I realize that those are not tears of sadness.

So needless to say, these days whenever the DIY urge kicks in, I simply sit back in the chair, LOL and reach for the business directory. Job well done.

Mark Brett is the photographer at the Western News.