Friday, March 13, 2009

There are Rules

In past posts I have mentioned that there were rules I followed when picking up tools. The "rules" have evolved over the past 20 years and as with most rule, experience shaped most of these rules. To describe their evolution we need to start back toward the beginning. When I was young and did not have a lot of discretionary money I would stop and pick up almost every tool I spotted. The number of tools wasn't that great, but when I saw a tool I saw the monetary value of the tool lying by the road and I couldn't leave that money lying there unclaimed. When my future wife and I started dating she considered this a quirkly amusing habit. Over the years since we've been married my wife has become less enamoured with this "habit".

On several occasions during those early days I would stop to pick up a tool while on my way to an important meeting or get together. This often led to a discussion of my "habit". My wife was never very angry, but she was concerned for my safety. After on particular instance where I rapidly braked and backed over a bent, hidden road marker she decided that there needed to be some rules to this game. One the plus side of the incident, the car was unharmed. On the negative side of the incident, the "tool" I spotted was a large 12 inch nut and bolt. Useful perhaps, but not really worth the hard braking and traffic dash. During our subsequent discussions she asked me why I picked up screwdrivers when I had so many. I didn't have a good answer. Thus rule 1 came into being.

No stopping for tools you already own..

This is the most important and overriding rule.

When we moved to Houston, things were different. Traffic in Houston is much different from the small town Alabama life we had previously known. Traffic is also much more dangerous. Stopping to pick up a tool on a Houston freeway can be akin to committing suicide (and yet I've done it). One particularly scary episode, after dark with very little shoulder area to park caused me to create rule 2.

No stopping after dark or without a safe shoulder area.

I stopped to pick up an item I thought was a tool (a hand held sledge hammer) and was disappointed to find out I had stopped for a piston assembly. Traffic was screaming by me and my little truck at well over 70 mph. At dark with little time to brake or swerve I was an accident waiting to happen. Fortunately I did not have an accident, but I was appropriately scared by the reality of my own potential mortality.

There is one more rule, it's more of a caveat to rule one.

In stop and go traffic it is permissible to pick up a tool only when stopped right beside the tool.

Since this usually involves no issues of safety, Rule 1 is suspended if the tool is anything except a screwdriver. As a matter of practicality and because I do not need any additional screwdrivers I rarely stop for them, but I will report their presence on this blog.

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