It’s all my fault

cropsI have a confession to make – I’m to blame for everything.

You see, when I shop for fresh fruits and vegetables, I want only the best, ripest, and freshest produce for my family.  Because I only pick the best, freshest and ripest, the rest of the fruit gets left behind and is eventually thrown out by the store.  I don’t want it, and I won’t pay for it, so they have to get rid of it.

Because this is how I shop, the store owners tell their suppliers not to give them any old, bruised, marked, or otherwise ‘unattractive’ product.  The suppliers comply.  It’s about me.  I’m paying, so they have to do what I want.

Now, the supplier is going to go back to the farmer.  He’s going to tell the farmer not to pick anything that has a mark on it, is bruised, or has signs of insects or other natural diseases.  The farmer has to comply, since the supplier won’t buy it from him otherwise.

The farmer, faced with fields of growing crops, needs to yield as much perfect produce as he can, or he’ll go broke.  I won’t buy anything sub-par for my family, so the grocery store won’t buy anything sub-par from the supplier, who won’t buy anything sub-par from the farmer….you get the idea.

Standing out in an open field, exposed to the elements, the farmer has few choices, since his crops are what feeds his family.  He needs to ensure that everything he grows can be sold, otherwise he’s growing nothing but debt.

With few options, the farmer employs the help of chemical sprays to ensure his crops look perfect.  It’s my fault.  I’m the guy standing at the road-side stands, checking each cob of corn for worms.  I’m not bringing those nasty bugs home to my family, so I guess I’m willing to have the corn sprayed, even if that’s not a conscious decision at the time.

McDonalds is my fault too.  Sorry.  Sometimes I’m in a hurry, or just too lazy to cook.  I asked for quickly prepared food – so quick in fact, that I can drive up to a window and have it handed to me, hot and salty within a minute.  I told McDonalds that this is how I want my food, so they complied.  I know it’s not healthy, but sometimes I just need to scarf down some grub while I’m on the run – and if pushed I’d say that I sometimes really crave the taste of a Big Mac.

The big-box stores?  You know it – me again.  I needed variety, long hours and cheap prices for all those toaster ovens, back massagers and iPhones. Sure, there were little stores that had them, but what a pain in the butt, having to drive from store to store.  And I didn’t know when they were open or if they had good prices.

I know, I should have supported the local business owner, but heck, who has time for that?  When I need a left-handed spindle crank, I can’t risk going to a store that doesn’t have it in stock and in 3 colours.  Nope – big box is the way to go.  I don’t know why that strip mall near my house looks so deserted though.  Must be the economy.

Although I’m not a photographer, I’m also responsible for the paparazzi attacks on celebrities.  I just can’t get enough of those tabloid magazines while standing in line at the grocery store.  A 3-headed baby that sings like Elvis?  Are you kidding?  Who’s got the latest ‘baby bump’, and who looks worse in a bathing suit? I crave this stuff.  Because I do, the photographers will do almost anything to get the picture that will entice me buy their magazine.

I was probably the one responsible for Princess Diana’s tragic death.  Can’t get enough of the Royals – I sent those photographers on motorcycles to capture an image of Lady Diana stepping out with her new beau.

See, the thing is, I would love to blame the farmers, or the fast-food places or the big box stores for how they’ve poisoned and cheapened our planet – they’re an easy target.  In the end though, it was me, the consumer, who decided to exercise the greatest power I had.  I gave them my business.  My money.  I told them, through my humble purchasing decisions what I wanted, and they complied.

So, I want to confess.  It’s my fault these things are the way they are.  I was the one making decisions that landed us where we are today.  I hope you can all forgive me.

Anything you’d like to get off your chest?


Unfinished Business

There are a lot of self-described home handymen out there.  I like to think that I’m one of them.  I love watching those home repair shows, especially the ones where the frustrated wife calls in the expert guy to ambush the unsuspecting, well-meaning husband about his incomplete or completely wrong home renovation.  The poor guy usually looks completely emasculated.

There should to be an aptitude test that everyone should take before they’re let loose in the home improvement stores.  Can you tell the difference between a hack saw and miter saw?  What does a router do? What shape is a Phillips head screw driver?  That kind of thing.  Maybe they’d get a tool belt or a certificate if they passed.

I was lucky enough as a kid to have access to a really cool workshop in our home, so I got a good start on understanding what tools did…and didn’t do.  I once tried to use a rasp as a hammer.  Bad ending for the rasp.  When I became a home owner, through necessity, I learned the hard way what jobs I could reasonably tackle and what jobs I should call in the experts for.

I do have one big growth opportunity, though – finishing a job.  I know there are a lot of women out there who pull their hair out over all the half complete projects their husbands have started around the house.  Guilty as charged.

I suppose that this has been a character flaw for most men through the

ages.  What was the logic behind the famous George Washington Unfinished Portrait?  Did old George get up to go to the washroom and never come back?  Did the artist run out of paint?  Maybe he said ‘lets pick this up again tomorrow’, then George had to run off to battle or something.

In the house I have now, I took on finishing the basement, which took several years to complete.  It wasn’t due to a lack of desire, but a lack of time and money.  We went into the project expecting it to take a while, but because it was the basement, it didn’t interrupt normal living.

We had our share of slow downs along the way, like rebuilding the bathroom 3 times…love you, honey!  Once I completed most of the framing, we bit the bullet and hired contractors for the plumbing, wiring, and dry wall.  By the way, hiring dry wall guys was the best investment I think I’ve ever made.

My job was to paint, lay flooring, then do the trim work.  That was it, then we could enjoy the ‘Man Cave’ to its fullest.  That was 3 years ago.

The basement looks fantastic if I do say so myself, but under closer inspection, there’s a little piece of trim that I never got around to installing.  3 years, and a 1 foot piece of white trim, and I can’t get it done.

That’s another funny thing about guys and their projects – when they show them off to friends, they immediately point out all the flaws.  Why is that?  Maybe we do that so no one else can point out our shoddy work.

Incomplete projects drive the ladies nuts!  How many homes have partially finished backyard projects, or a job started, the tools sitting out, and left there for weeks on end?

Well, I have a theory that should give the therapists out there lots to chew on.

We don’t finish these jobs, because we’re afraid.  There are two main fears that we men have:

  1. We’re afraid that if we finish the job, we’ll be tasked with another immediately afterwards, so the honey-do list never ends.
  2. If we put that last piece of trim on, and the job is finished, we are open to ridicule about how well we did.  As long as there’s one little thing left to do, we always have the default response when someone points out a flaw; “Well, I’m still working on it”, thus extinguishing any negative comments.

You see, you can’t truly fail if you haven’t finished trying yet, can you?  Even if the flaw has nothing to do with what you haven’t completed, there’s that little caveat that gives you an ‘out’.

That’s what the experts say, right?  As long as you don’t quit, you haven’t failed.  Well, the same thing applies here – as long as you’re still technically working on a project, you haven’t failed at it.

I also think a lot of men are like me.  I love tackling a project.  I lay awake at night, figuring out how something will come together.  I actually get a bit obsessive about, which may not be entirely healthy.  The trouble starts as the job gets a ways down the road and all the big manly parts are finished.

We’d do the big stuff – the deck is framed, concrete poured and the huge beams are secured in place.  Renting heavy equipment is like a day at Disney World for us guys.  Have you ever seen someone at the rental counter with an auger or hammer drill?  Like a kid on Christmas morning!  These large pieces of equipment also have to be lubricated….with beer and a couple of friends – as spotters, you know.  Now that sounds like a manly project.

But it’s those little finishing things that are kind of a let down.  It’s almost like driving home after a great vacation.  You know it’s  coming to an end, and all the fun stuff is over.  Back to the rental counter with your head down and a hint of sadness in your eyes.

Maybe that’s the tie in on all of this.  If we finish a job, not only are we in the cross hairs for the next one, and we have to fess up to a less than perfect job, it also marks the end of something we wrestled to the ground and beat.

If home projects ended with something cool like using a jack hammer or a flame thrower, we’d probably finish a lot more of them.  Unfortunately, they usually whimper out with a small paint brush and a rag, or a handful of dainty finishing nails.  Not very manly.

Is this what it comes down to?  Are we men so shallow and insecure that we intentionally refuse to complete home projects because it means all the cool tools have be put away, and the arts and crafts stuff comes out?

With all that to roll around in our noggins, here’s a thought.  From now on, all home projects have 2 distinct parts.  The first part is the big stuff; demolition, dismantling, framing, rough construction.  Then the second part is the little stuff;  painting, trim, door pulls, cleaning up.

Maybe the jobs should be shared with someone else less ‘heavy equipment worthy’ so we don’t have to deal with the glue guns and accent colors of the project world.  At the very least, we may actually say we finished something.