- tinkerer (tĭng’kər’ər)
- – One who enjoys experimenting with and repairing machine parts (or any other damn thing).
Perhaps, it’s because I’m reading/listening to the late Roger Ebert’s memoir, Life Itself, I feel a compunction to scribble thoughts on this. Or maybe that my dear wife has tossed another of those loving looks of her’s over in my direction. You know those. Meant to convey a thought in the usual, elegant shorthand of wives. Simply, it’s the, “I think you’re done with that now.“, one. Today’s regarded something of a technical nature in the house we live in. It needed fixing, that’s all.
My bride would respond, “But it wasn’t broken… dear.” The last word meant in the most loving of tones, I’m sure. I know she’ll secretly thank me later.
What can I say? I like to tinker. Fix stuff… improve, as it were. For almost five decades I’ve known this was a part of my DNA. I became a gym rat during high school because of that. Handy since I didn’t have the height for basketball. And somewhat reinforced when I took an electricity class as an 11th grader. Worked out well considering it allowed me to fix the persnickety PA system when it flared during the graduation ceremony for the class of ’71. The same pomp that had the girl I pined for two years in cap ‘n gown, in fact. At least, she heard her name called that day.
Like many things, it was a another job in particular that cemented this idiosyncrasy way back when. The movie projectionist position I held in the Bicentennial year of ’76. Working at an establishment where I had to deal day-to-day with machines that could have been considered museum pieces at any other place. Namely, the carbon arc projectors of the Huntington Park Warner Theatre. Like the 35mm film of old movies, something always broke. Consequently, I learned to fix what needed it. And this venue offered plenty of practice.
Although, the fixing felt good. Positive reinforcement at the ready. Periodically, multiple times in a day. Adding to the gym rat mindset from my teens, bred one who loved to tinker with the artifacts of whatever worth pursuing. Rinse and repeat. No matter the task, hobby, or sport. Judo in college? The dojo and the shops/suppliers of martial arts equipment was where you’d find me during the 70s, when not at the movies. The years of road cycling that followed? There wasn’t a bicycle shop I wouldn’t visit, at least once. Hell, my apartment back then came to resemble one.
Same when the photography bug first bit. My eyes either studying the art, looking at images, or stuck in a viewfinder. I still have a number of camera bodies, lenses, tri- and mono-pods down in the garage from years passed. And don’t get my wife started on the sports equipment I’ve collected over the years. Or the gear I’ve used up, retired, or given away. Of course, she’d admit I’ve always been into some sport or another. Didn’t mind my archery phase, either. Bows once studded the man cave. The same room that eventually become “the baby’s.” Both of them.
I’m ignoring my better half throwing another look my way with that statement.
Obsessive? Possibly. I just can’t leave things alone. If it can be improved… or merely gotten to work once more… I’m your man. On it, as it were… even if maybe I shouldn’t. You could say it’s the byproduct of the tech-head wobbling atop these shoulders. Or, the result of years mending what needed it at my place of employment. So says this recovering sysadmin. Still, I wonder to this day if I choose the job, or did the job chose me. And just why exactly am I writing of my wife’s complaint of moi puttering around the house? What’s the context?
I reckon it’s this blogging thing. “What? You saying that’s broken?”, you may presume. Not exactly.
Up until recent time, I thought I’d managed to not tinker my utmost with something I enjoyed doing at this age. Breaking, as it were, not only with tradition but with the genetics that placed me where I am. Away from those other pastimes. Not fiddling endlessly. All the while hanging out with the like-minded, this time in the ether, that shared an appreciation for this writing activity. And as usual, I’d be wrong.
Now, I worry over my phrasing these days. Or what to write in a post. What image would work in a piece, and where to place it? Is the appearance of my site working for me or others that visit? And what exactly do I have left in my Drafts bin? Deadline? What deadline?
The equivalent of the ol’ gym or pro shop these days, you ask? As with most things at present, I’ve discovered it went virtual. Few things surpass perusing the sites of friends and writers I admire these days. Reading online, with a smile on my face, is its own positive reinforcement. Not helping but get a bit excited when a message or notification of the next intriguing article or review lights upon my inbox or RSS reader.
In other words, many that you, my readers, have generated. Be it centered on the subject of books, music, and movies, or just life itself, it’s become so worthwhile for this old tinkerer. Just today, a good friend I hope to meet in person sometime this year has me thinking on a new project she’s come up with for May and a certain new summer film. Gotta love it. So, on this Tax Day, I’m sending my thanks out to you for it all. My wife, however, only wants to send a bill for the time and effort she sees her husband use up ;-).