I don’t consider myself to be an exceptional man. Really, I don’t. I’m a middle-aged, middle-class wage slave and suburban dad. I feel that if I can do something, anything really, it must not be THAT hard to do, and that anyone could do it.
Except…the more I see of other people – my contemporaries – the more I’ve been wondering lately. Has it become exceptional to simply be able to do all the things that were considered “normal” when I was a kid?
The first example is on the back of many cars, trucks and “crossovers” that I see on the road. I see cars with stickers or magnets that are absolutely not lined up with anything on the car, and it looks like the owners really just peeled off the backing, closed their eyes and slapped it on. It truly doesn’t take a lot of skill or time to just line the darn thing up with a trim line, or the edge of a window or tailgate. In the case of multiple stickers, I’ve seen cars with a line of stickers not lined up with the car, or each other – it made my hair stand up and I wanted to jump out at a stoplight and rearrange them.
Expanding on that thought, I wonder if it’s the same inside their houses? When I hang something on the wall – a picture, a small cabinet, whatever – it’s level. I have a tool that measures level-ness. It’s called…a level. Are these people’s houses full of crooked pictures and slanted wall-hangings? My own cousin showed me the flooring job he’d done in a rental house he owns. He was proud of the peel & stick tiles he’d put down…which were all kinds of crooked.
Which leads to the next example. Home improvement projects. I’m not talking about big projects like re-wiring your house or plumbing a new bathroom. No, I’m talking about assembling furniture from Ikea or Sauder, or replacing a light fixture. I know people who seriously can’t assemble the U-build stuff they get from the store – heck, the Ikea assembly instructions are a common joke.
And I really don’t know why. I’ve never had an issue assembling anything. In fact, the more things I’ve tried to do, the more I’ve found that I CAN do, up to installing ceramic tile in a kitchen or building a patio with pergola. But I know people who actually say “oh, I wouldn’t even want to TRY doing that” for what seems like the simplest things. They almost sound offended when someone CAN.
Next…cooking. I can cook…I have to eat, so I have to cook. Doesn’t everybody? Turns out…not so much. I just volunteered with some people from my job to cook a dinner at a local hospitality house near the hospital. One of those people is the mother of a high school senior – she’s been a mother for 18 years. And she had never made a meatloaf. She was ready to take it out of the oven when it was clearly, visibly still raw. Another co-worker is the mother of a middle-schooler, so she’s been a mom for 13-14 years…and she was ready to make mashed potatoes into a soupy mess. The whole time, I was testing food and tweaking pots so they didn’t boil over.
Again, I’m not talking about BIG things. No, it’s just little things that I thought everybody could do. But where I’ve found that the more things I try, the more things I find that I can do…it seems like others can’t do these things, and are unwilling or scared to even try.
I’m a middle-aged, middle-class suburban dad. I can cook a meal; fix a bicycle; hang a picture straight and level; assemble Ikea furniture; keep plants green; hit a target with a rifle or pistol; fix my car; run a washing machine, dishwasher or vacuum cleaner; mix a drink; paint a room; defrag a computer.
None of those things should make me exceptional…but do they?