Technology works with the right neighbors

By Jim Lee

My abilities in matters of any practical importance have been called into question on more than one occasion. This has recently happened again. Yet I still fail to understand why people doubt my abilities, particularly my amazing versatility and creativity.
Why does everyone focus on the negative? OK, a few things have gone wrong, but just think of how intelligently they went wrong. Hey, I’m nobody’s fool — I can foul things up in ways never before considered possible.
Maybe I am the only person on Earth who does home repair with a sledge hammer, but can Bob Vila modify a toaster oven with a chain saw? I think not. Why then does anything involving practical skill transform me into a stumbling klutz?
I have been very successful in living near the greatest people anyone could have as neighbors (the Russells across the street and the Wards next door), but I have failed at getting along with our household machines. In fact, they revel in my maintenance ineptitude. Among these dastardly devices is the demon commonly known as the lawn sprinkler.
Perhaps normal people fare better with the “conveniences” of 21st century domestication, but few accuse me of being normal. And I have vowed to rise above the dominance of gadgets.
I shall not prostrate myself at the altar of technology. I refuse to be ruled by mechanized or electricized contraptionry. I am the one with determination and the 9-pound sledge hammer too formidable to fit in my plastic toolbox from Sears —NOT THE MACHINES.
I shall overcome that massive conspiracy through force of will and inherent superiority over heinous gadgetry.
And this includes the lawn sprinkler.
The sprinkler head has stopped working. It’s the evil one in the back corner of the front yard that sprays back and forth to soak a wedge of lawn. It’s on a timer and works late at night while I dream of machine armies trying to conquer Planet Earth.
After around a year and a half I noticed the grass turning brown and brittle, and the soil in that previously irrigated wedge becoming a dusty, baked crust. The sprinkler head had seen better days. I bought a new one so I would not have to spend another year and a half fixing the old sprinkler. Problem: I had to install the new one. The directions made about as much sense as reading a Spenserian sonnet to a wart hog.
Fortunately, James Ward, our next-door neighbor, had experience installing and adjusting sprinkler systems from his days in the hardware business. I wanted to ask him for a bit of advice on how to do the job. He said I would need a small shovel, so I left the 9-pound sledge in its hiding place. After clearly and expertly explaining the procedure, James could obviously see the confusion and panic on my face. So he just did it himself. He even got wet and muddy to adjust the spray.
It’s not often anybody has the good fortune to have a neighbor like that. James and Glenda Ward are great people to have living in the next house. Saundra and I have been living next door to them for several years now, and we have never taken the time to see how lucky we are. No matter how busy people are, they should appreciate the people right in front of their faces. Now I have guilt to add to my home repair difficulties.
Well, the sprinkler works perfectly now, thanks to James. Does this mean I should try to figure out that control thing in the garage that turns it on and off?