On Fathers and Screwdrivers

This morning, my three year old son Rafael called me into his room for help.  He has a wooden step-stool carved with the letters of his name as puzzle pieces, and the “L” was stuck.  He couldn’t get it out.  It was in backwards and had become wedged.

It's intended for kids, but the puzzle letters can easily become jammed if put in wrong

It’s intended for kids, but the puzzle letters can easily become jammed if put in wrong

“Hmm, we’re going to need a screwdriver,” I told him.  “Can you get it?”

Excited, he jumped up and said, “I’ll go get my screwdriver!” as he ran out the door. Oops, I realized he meant his toy ones.  “Okay, but get mine too!” I called after him.

Today happened to be Father’s Day, and my mind immediately jumped back 20 years to the biggest argument I ever had with my own father.  It was over screwdrivers.

I was 18 and leaving for college in a couple of weeks, and I was gathering the various odds and ends that each college-bound student packs up and hauls off in their family car for their first adventure as “independent” young adults.

I needed some basic tools, so I went with my father to the hardware store to get a screwdriver.  I knew just what I wanted – my mother had told me about a four-in-one screwdriver that seemed perfect.  Inside the handle, it stored two different size philips and two different sized flat-heads.  It was compact and would be great for putting together furniture, tightening hinges, and what not.

My father had something else in mind.  He pulled off the shelf a 9-piece screwdriver set containing assorted sizes of philips and flat-heads, including ones with long shafts for hard to reach screws and short “stubby” ones for tight spaces.

It wasn’t what I wanted, and we proceeded to have a knock down, drag out argument in the middle of the hardware store.  My father tried to explain to me all the reasons why I wanted a set like that, and I set forth all the reasons I didn’t need it.

“How are you ever going to fix a broken doorknob without a stubby?!” he pointed out.

“I’m not.  For something like that, I’ll call plant operations!” I retorted.

The debate raged on for days, neither one of us willing to give in.  In the end, I took two sets of screwdrivers with me to college – the four-in-one I originally wanted and a 9 piece set from my father.

I still have both sets to this day.  For most jobs, I used the four-in-one I originally wanted, but when I became a home owner, I did find the special ones in the nine piece handy.

When my son returned with the screwdrivers, he also had two sets.  One was from a plastic tool set my sister gave him for Hanukah a few years ago, but the other was my real one.  It wasn’t the four-in-one, and it wasn’t the nine piece set either.

Eight years ago, my father went to MOMA in New York and saw the most interesting screwdriver set.  Remember our famous argument, he bought it and sent it to me.

A versatile screwdriver set with a beautiful look

A versatile screwdriver set with a beautiful look

The “MUJI” is from Japan and has a beautiful design aesthetic.  It has eight different heads which can be used as is or they can be attached to a base for a longer reach.  They can also connect to the base sideways if you need more power.  They are small and compact but very versatile.

I appreciate the design aesthetic, but I also love that these screwdrivers are perfect for almost any job.  They are small enough to fit in a kitchen drawer, and I always grab them for projects around the house.  They are just right.

Fortunately, my son and I did not have an argument over the screwdrivers.  I used mine to loosen the stuck letter, and then he used his own to pop in the rest of the way out.

Working together

Working together

Happy Father’s Day, Dad.


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