by Robert Maxwell
Recently a friend asked me to come over and help install a window in his basement. He knew I had some experience fitting windows, having built my own house. I was happy to help, and after a few hours of work, we had The 30 x 60 inch window successfully Installed. “I sure appreciate this, man,” my friend said with enthusiasm as we finished up. “I wouldn’t have a clue how to do this on my own.“ I replied that a little experience goes a long way, and that I’m always happy to lend a hand when I can. The experience and his gratitude got me thinking, and the results of that are what I’d like to share with you here. My friend is in many ways a highly capable man. He farms full time, produces heaps of firewood every year for three different households, and is pretty good with heavy machinery. Carpentry and renovations are, by his own admission, one area where his knowledge falls down. The ideal man should have a broad range of skills that come in handy in life’s practical challenges. Without these, he and his family will certainly find themselves in a sticky situation at some point, without the ability to solve it themselves. Here are a few of the skills I feel should be in every good man‘s arsenal.
Passable Building and Reno Skills
If you live in anything fancier than a cardboard box, you’ll almost certainly have to do some sort of building or renovation related work, however minor, at some point. Few experiences motivate the gathering of the necessary skills more than facing a problem in your home you can’t fix. There are no doubt many men out there happy to simply pick up the phone and hire the necessary professional to reshingle a roof, fit a door, or redo their kitchen. If you hire someone good, chances are this will turn out fine. Trouble is, if you don’t have a clue what you’re doing, you won’t know how to evaluate good builders and workmanship from bad. You won’t know what small details to watch for that could make or break your project. You’ll also forgo the masculine satisfaction of dealing with the problem yourself.
Basic Mechanical Skills
Most people living and working in North America own some sort of car. It seems to me if you own a machine on which you fully depend for work and transport, you should have at least a basic idea how it works. Sure, you can bring your vehicle to the mechanic when it breaks down, and most people do. Trouble is, mechanics these days are getting more expensive and less reliable. Emphasis on the expensive part if you go to a certified dealer for your vehicle’s brand. Besides the massive financial benefits of doing simple jobs on your car yourself, you’ll also gain the admiration of the lady in your life as you heroically remedy a mechanical problem incomprehensible to her. In all likelihood, it’ll be something relatively simple, since really complex car trouble may still warrant a visit to a trustworthy professional, if you don’t resort to this too often, it won’t diminish your lady’s perception of you as a rugged, manly individual who can fix anything.
Basic Woodcutting Skills
Every fully lived life will at some point present its owner with a circumstance where a chainsaw comes in handy. Even if you don’t heat your home with wood and live in a city, eventually a storm will knock down a tree in your yard, your hedges will need cutting back, or an old wooden fence will need demolishing. Sure, you could just call someone to take care of these jobs, and most chainsaw-less men do. It seems to me this is approach is fundamentally lacking in manliness. When you get right down to it, wouldn’t you rather be the sort of man people call for help, rather than the sort who does the calling? I would. Not so long ago, self-sufficiency and the ability to use saws and axes with confidence and skill were standard traits which nearly all men possessed. Drive within a few kilometres of most cities nowadays, and you’d be hard pressed to find a single axe or chainsaw anywhere but in hardware stores and landscaping firm headquarters. Why is that? Clearly it’s not a lack of need for these skills, since the tools still exist and remain on store shelves. It seems to me the loss of wood cutting ability among most urban men stems from a gradual acceptance of the paid professional to “take care of it”. Don’t be one of those guys. There are more than enough of them. Buck the trend, and get good with a chainsaw, axe, and hatchet.