Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Yes, I can...maybe

I am not fit for Home Depot…..

I am fit for many things…I am a runner, and can go out and do 5-10 miles with relative ease…I know my way around a kitchen, a classroom, a computer, many cities and airports, and a mall. Last weekend I tried to add to the list. In fact, I have been trying this one out for a sometime. I have watched my fair share of HGTV and Martha Stewart thinking, “yes, I can….” Of course watching such shows leads one to head to the local hardware store looking around, wondering, looking a little helpless, hoping that a helper in a lovely orange apron will come to me and give me advice. Secretly I want this person to say, “Where do you live? I can come over and do this job for you.” But there is a part of me that wants to say; “I can do this myself…how hard is it….”

So that is where I was last week. I ordered a light fixture to (finally) replace the one that came with the home 3 years ago. When the fixture arrived on my front doorstep I thought…this will be a call to Chuck the Handy Man. Really, that is what his card says. Irritated that it will cost me an additional $60 to install this light, I bring the package inside. It is not as heavy as I expected it to be. I am interested in what is involved with the job of replacing the fixture, so I open the box. There are a minimal amount of items in the box. Seriously, this looks much less intimidating than the gas grill and stand I assembled last week. So I dive deeper, take out the parts and the directions and read….well, I really look at pictures. Dude, this does not look hard at all. I can do this….yes, I can….

Now before you reply to me about the dangers of electricity allow me to inform you that I consulted with many websites before I actually decided I would embark on the task. In fact, I called a few people….none of whom has electrical experience….I told them my plan….I suppose I wanted some back-up for my thinking….One friend had some good advice. She told me that I should let someone know when I was starting the project and then send word when I had finished it. That way if several hours went by without connection from me, they would come to the conclusion that I had not been successful and should send someone to come find me on the floor of the bathroom with a screwdriver in hand in a puddle of water. Who knows, maybe I do not know how to use the electrical box in my house and turn the switches from ON to OFF. I feel as though I have experience with this task since my sisters and I used multiple hair styling devices in the 80s which required electricity and lead to overloading the circuits on numerous occasions.

So, here I go….Saturday morning…I head to Home Depot dressed in a cute dress and heels with my hair pulled back with a large stylish headband. Never mind the reason I am dressed like this on a Saturday morning. Suffice it to say, there are not many complementing my chosen outfit. I already feel like a fish out of water….I have 2 things to get-electrical tape-the directions in the box said that I needed it and light bulbs…some cool little ones to match my fixture. I am so excited to finally complete the look of the bathroom I can hardly contain myself. Then it starts….where does one look for electrical tape? Is it in the general accessory area? I know the people in the orange aprons don’t call their gear accessories, but I do. It helps me understand their stuff a little better. Well, the tape is not there. Oh….it’s electrical so it must be with the lights. I click my heels towards the LIGHTING section to find, lights. Oh, this makes sense (a little) but there is no tape. Remembering that I need light bulbs I start looking for them only to find a dinky section of clearance bulbs. I circle around. Where are the bulbs, where is the tape? Surely they have both things. Still I do not see them. I do not know what I was thinking; perhaps I would find some secret passageway like in Harry Potter and be magically taken to an aisle that most humans cannot see? Aisle 2.20 or something like that. Where are the people in the aprons? I could really use their help about right now. Are they all on coffee break? Do they have a secret code for women who are not dressed in the right weekend do-it-yourself clothing that tells them to all head away from the clicking heels?

Finally I spot one. He is engrossed in a conversation that sounds a little like a foreign language to me. I have literally no background knowledge into what he is talking about. I comfort myself remembering that I am in the lighting section, so they must be talking about lighting. Seriously, I do have a masters degree….I am not an idiot….or am I? My turn to ask a few questions…I am told where the supplies are that I need. Turns out, that the light bulbs are not near the lights. Who knew? Does that make sense? NO. I actually tell orange apron man that this is not the way that I would organize the store. The look on his face tells me that he wants to remind me not to use my heel as a hammer when I get home. He does not speak except to say that he will lead me to the light bulbs. Really he is leading me to the light(s)? Is this going to be a religious experience? I am amazed when I get to the bulbs….there are so many of them to choose from. Perhaps I will have a religious experience in the form of saying JESUS out loud. I take a deep breath, I find what I need and head to the cashier and then home. I have a fixture to replace remember! Yes, I can…

Back at home I lay out all of the supplies, text a friend to tell them that I am flirting with danger, turn of the electricity to the bathroom, climb up on the vanity with a screwdriver in hand. Once I get up close to the fixture I realize that there are no screws. This perplexes me for a bit, but then I manage to move the metal enough to pop it off…really there are no screws at this point. I get the front part off and then find a place to employ a screwdriver. This is making more sense. I go into disengage the plate on the wall only to find more wires than I expected. I step down, consult the internet and regain confidence. Yes, I can…

After a little grunting and a few expletives, I get the whole thing down and see that I have 3 wires…one black, one white, and one copper…this is what I am expecting! Thinking that I might actually have to start a part time gig installing light fixtures in bathrooms, I take a closer look at the wall. It appears that the hole in the wall is not centered. For the former fixture this did not matter, for the new one it does….Darn, it does matter! On closer inspection I see that there is no outlet box in the wall. The builders simply punched a hole in the wall and pulled the electrical wires through…hmmm

See as it turns out I am not fit for Home Depot….the man who I will be calling to install the fixture is!
In case you are wondering…I am still saying….yes, I can! I will try something else I am sure!