Dec 02

The tale of the infuriating handyman

Winter. It shouldn’t be allowed. Sure, at the moment it’s 80 degrees and I’m flitting about the farm in a pair of sporty Bermudas, but then again it’s only December. An epic freeze of 35, 34, maybe even 32 degrees (the horror!) is in my future, and I shudder to think. See, there are about 879 parts of the farm that, if they freeze, can cause catastrophic inconvenience. And do I ever dislike inconvenience.

Infuriating handyman emerges from some dreadful attic hellmouth.

I used to have a handyman who was in charge of managing those freezing farm-parts. But we have parted ways. Over the years he’d become an argumentative, petulant, infuriating sort of a handyman. His basic grasp of the employer-employee relationship had somehow gotten all jumbled up. He thought he was the boss of me. If I said “stack wood” would he say “how high?” No, he would not. What he’d do was, he’d emit a whine, grab a tallboy out of his cooler, get on the tractor, and drive down to the pasture to mow — I kid you not — crop circles. You never saw a guy so fond of whining and drunk-mowing crop circles.

Senseless crop circling not his only pastime, of course. He also enjoyed throwing tantrums, as well as sitting around on the porch with a beer, incoherently mansplaining that phosphates are live animals. At the time I didn’t recognize it, but looking back, it seems obvious. I’d inadvertently gotten myself a psuedo-husband. And not just any old psuedo-husband. An infuriating alcoholic pseudo-husband!

Naturally I regaled my family and friends with humorous complaints about my tantrum-throwin’ drunk-mowin’ whiny-ass handyman. It was my favorite subject. Not so much, it turned out, with the family and friends. They went from “Ha ha, what a character!” to “You guys argue like an old married couple,” to “You know, that dude seems a little off,” to “Can you talk about anything but your infuriating handyman?” to, finally, “This is an intervention. Your relationship with your infuriating handyman is dysfunctional. Listening to you complain about him all the goddam time is destroying all our lives. Fire him or you’re out of our lives for good.”

Thus did it dawn on me: because I don’t have a handy bone in my body and therefore have no business whatsoever living out in the country, I had become dependent on an infuriating handyman. And my inability to put a sock in it about this infuriating power dynamic was driving a wedge between me and my loved ones.

I don’t have to tell you how extra-infuriating this realization was for a veteran patriarchy blamer and award-nominated internet feminist such as myself. Boy was there ever egg on my face.

I’m happy to report that now I’m handyman-free and I’ve never felt so alive! As the psychologists and war correspondents say, there’s nothing quite so invigorating as impending doom. However, since notions like “change the oil in the generator” and “winter” still freak me the heck out, and since I’m probably not ever going to be of sturdy pioneer stock, I’m thinking of getting a new handyperson. A handy-lady would be a welcome change of pace, but I won’t hold my breath. Out here all the women — even the ones who shouldn’t be — seem to be married to “hubbies” and are therefore out of the running.

“Now accepting applications for handyperson at hog-infested horse farm.”
“No crop circlers need apply.”
“Eccentric crone requires burly minion to do her bidding.”

Too BDSM-y?


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  1. Kristine

    Crop circles? Seriously? Dang, I do not miss living in farm country. There was nothing to do out there.

  2. Comradde PhysioProffe

    Do you need a full-time generalist handyd00d, or can you just hire specialists for different tasks as they arise?

  3. The Crone of Cottonmouth County

    @CPP That would be my dream, but it’s pretty expensive to contract out for every little thing. The maintenance out here is insane. In any given week I’d be calling at least two — if not all — of the following: electrician, plumber, locksmith, fence guy, well guy, tractor guy, landscaper, road crew, tree service, dirt guy, feed delivery, and carpenter. And I don’t think there is even a designation for the guy who climbs up on your roof and leaf-blows all the crap off of it before it rains to keep your collected rainwater from turning brown. Most professional tradespeople charge me between $50 and $100 just to drive out here, and they won’t stop at Home Depot to pick up light bulbs on their way in, or take the trash up to the gate for me on their way out. Which is why I waited so long to can the infuriating handyman. I kept thinking to myself, “think of the money you’re saving by putting up with this crap.”

  4. Hermionemone

    Have you ever thought about: (1) Seceding from the state of Texas (2) Setting up the Savage Death Island University / College / Institute / Ashram for Advanced Feminist Revolutionary Studies? “The admissions board encourages applicants with backgrounds in a diversity of practical and impractical fields of endeavor”.

  5. Pinko Punko

    Glob love the water in these here parts. Do you get the “oh, yeah, all your fixtures are leaking because the water just degrades stuff around here”, and how many trees died last year because of lack of that water that are just waiting to fall on stuff- do those need to get cleaned out? Savage Death Island loves conundrums such as these wonderful oaks provide shade from the hellfire, but since it never rains they are just going to die, or if they don’t die all of a sudden, this fungus that is making their bark fall off and slowly killing them and is probably directly fueled by global warming, is just going to make it so random limbs probably fall on your head, unless of course instead being destined for a devastating wild fire of incomprehensible speed and destruction. Oy.

  6. The Crone of Cottonmouth County


    Have you ever thought about: (1) Seceding from the state of Texas (2) Setting up the Savage Death Island University / College / Institute / Ashram for Advanced Feminist Revolutionary Studies? “The admissions board encourages applicants with backgrounds in a diversity of practical and impractical fields of endeavor”.

    Every day.

  7. quixote

    Ignorance is expensive. I know. I’m ignorant, too. They ought to have taught us basic electrical work, plumbing, car and tractor fixing, and leaves-off-roof-blowing in middle school. IBTP.

  8. gingerest

    A sane, stable handyperson with good judgment could make his or her way in the world. Even in the Big City, I have had no luck finding one. I have had conversations with such persons to the effect of “Oh, so, we need to keep using this big piece of plywood bolted in place of the front door because you have to go to court daily for an unspecified period of time, for reasons you prefer not to discuss? Okay, sure, no problem, just let us know when you’re back so we can unlock the other door for you, and before you go, do you have any tips for keeping the rain out? ” because once the job is started you are his or her patsy, a plaything.

  9. Pinko Punko

    The one problem is that many of us don’t know anything, so can easily be taken in by random handypersons from You Tube home project university, the Lionel Hutzes of handypersons, as it were. “See, what we gotta to here is split the main wire and just wrap it around this water pipe and send it over there and we’ll use this duct tape, to just seal it off and then we’ll use this coat hanger…” and I would be all “OOOOOOH, MacGuyver!”

  10. tarr

    Some of the finest, hardworkingest all-round quality workers I have met are (unfortunately labelled) illegal aliens. Most don’t speak very good English but appreciate your efforts to teach them. They live in fear of the law and have fewer rights than slaves did. Makes me feel bad for them.

    There is, as you have noted, something way wrong with the white gringo male privilege.

  11. djuna

    I am compelled to give something akin to a shout-out to Pinko for name-checking Lionel Hutz. Thank you.

  12. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    My handy-fella is a dream. He does what I ask, performs his tasks to the point of perfectionism, is on the look-out for other stuff I might need, shows up when he’s supposed to, and charges reasonable rates. I sing his praises and recommend him to all and sundry in my ‘hood who need assistance. He cleans up after himself. The most he’s ever asked for from me is a cold Coke on a hot afternoon. (I think he believes I am his spinster aunt.) He even offered little sips of water to the blue jay fledglings when they were learning to fly and terrorizing my dogs. He mows the lawn, does snow removal, has pressure-washed and painted the garage, cleaned the gutters, painted the window frames and awnings, planted autumn bulbs and cut back some frightening overgrowth in the back yard.

  13. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Oh, and he hooked up my new TV and DVD/VCR thingie. I’m thinking of writing him into my will.

  14. The Crone of Cottonmouth County

    Well, Antoinette, if that guy ever indicates to you that he is experiencing the very sensible urge to relocate to Austin, have him get in touch.

  15. The Crone of Cottonmouth County

    I am compelled to give something akin to a shout-out to Pinko for name-checking Lionel Hutz. Thank you

    I Can’t Believe It’s A Law Firm!

    Pinko should really enter the Pop Culture Reference-Off Championships. I notice that I’m beginning to age out of smartipants pop culture awareness and into more of a Grandpa Simpson-like nostalgia haze.

  16. Val

    My fellow veteran of the Divorce/Custody wars was giving me grief when I voiced a few complaints about my Nigel: Why do you keep him around? Why don’t you kick him to the curb??

    I told her the truth – he’s my handyman. When I signed up for that dating service lo these many moons ago, I should have specified: “Farm Hand w/Benefits”.

  17. Pinko Punko

    I am now imagining said handymen not descending from said attic but being raptured up into a netherworld like one of those cannisters at the bank drive through.

  18. Jezebella

    Surely there is. somewhere, a charming, non-irritating handy-dyke with a hankering for dreadful country life who’d be willing to trade her services for a place to park her Airstream?

    Antoinette, for reals, if your dude ever decides to relocate to South Mississippi, drop me a line. He sounds perfect. PERFECT. I’ve got a handy guy, but his wonderful-ness is so well-known that he is rarely available, especially since he has a regular paying job on top of his sideline in being able to fix every damn thing ever.

  19. Deborah

    Reminds me of the drywall guy who spent a month completing his week of drywall work. He did tell funny stories about growing up in Jamaica, of course. The worst day was when I left him alone in the house and he managed to find my carefully cherished one and only bottle of Jamaican rum, which I had been hoarding for 5 years. He explained that he had to sample it to find out if it was really Jamaican so he could tell me if I’d been ripped off. Buh byeeeeeeeee!

  20. Pinko Punko

    Apologize for Gawker link, but how not to solve handyperson problems:


  21. Bushfire

    I have the perfect handydyke for ya- my partner, who can fix a car, build anything out of wood, fix anything, put up a fence, install a ceiling fan, fix the plumbing, put on a roof, you name it! All you have to do is move to Toronto.

  22. Belle

    Y’know, I think what we all need is a network of sane handy-persons. Of course, that would necessitate finding more than one or two. I had a guy last year working on my studio. He had to put up a dozen pieces of dry-wall, tape and mud them, and then paint. It took him nearly two weeks. Because, of course, he charged by the hour. And then he added materials on top of that. So they got paid for sitting around, and he charged for his time for lunch, bought the most expensive stuff and then threw it all away after a single use. And it still wasn’t right.

    Seriously. PITA Handy-persons are the norm. Antoinette and Bushfire: clone yours quickly, and send out an army. They’ll be kept busy!

  23. polarcontrol

    Oh god. Now I’ve had too many classes of that medoc and reading too many posts in a row. I promise to stop infesting the comments after this! It is just too fitting for this, I must share:


    “I thought you were the handy-man
    I laid my life in your hands
    Andy my man
    I thought you were the handy-man

    Then something went wrong
    And the feeling was all gone..”

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