When you’re just a kid, you want to help. You want to be useful. You want to hang out with your old man. But invariably, you’re going to mess up. You’re going to drop something, hang out where you’re not wanted, or just plain get in the way. As a grown-up, I can hear some of the same things my father yelled or which otherwise came out of his mouth. While usually true, I can’t help but think we should try to learn something from the past. Below I’ve documented some of the things we’ve likely all said and done that might have gotten us in trouble. Maybe we can all remember what it was like to get yelled at for silly things when we were young.
Here are the Top 5 Things My Father Yelled
1) Hold the Light Steady!
For some reason, it seems that it is physiologically impossible for anyone under the age of 14 to hold an incandescent flashlight steady. Still harder, holding that flashlight on the exact spot your dad wants. Since we didn’t have headlamps at the time (we weren’t coal miners after all), the job fell to me. Typically these adventures took place on a sub-zero winter’s day. My father thought winter was a great time to work on the well-used motor for our 1973 Jeep Wagoneer. We affectionately nicknamed it “The Safari Beast”.
Honestly, I had a difficult time holding a flashlight steady indoors. In cold weather, I demonstrated even less skill than usual.
2) Where is My X? (substitute any tool you might have borrowed)
Looking back, it seems my stepbrother and I had a way of borrowing my dad’s tools. Somehow, we often ended up leaving them in the woods or out in the yard behind the house. Sometimes he asked for them and we could fo “find” them for him right away. It was another story when he found them—all rusty—while cutting the grass or doing something out in the yard.
Um, those situations usually didn’t end so well. Of all the things my father yelled, discovering a misplaced tool frightened me the most!
Even with our run-ins, he never put a lock on the toolbox or the garage for that matter. We always had the tools to construct our forts, fix our projects, and build stuff.
3) Hand Me That…
My primary job in helping my dad was to be his personal assistant. Largely, this resulted in being a human tool caddy and locating various instruments of self-torture and mayhem. Why am I describing the tools as such? When you all but completely renovate a home with nothing more sophisticated than a corded drill and a circular saw (that’s right, no cordless tools, table, miter, or reciprocating saws at our house), you get a bit jaded. And compressors and nailers? No way, by golly we nailed every stud by hand—the old-fashioned way.
Being a tool caddy under these conditions resulted in a lot of work. It also taught me the trades in a way that was a lot more hands-on than I would have gotten otherwise. At least I keep telling myself that. Many of the things my father yelled ended up reinforcing my knowledge of tools.
Of course, this invariably leads to:
4) No, I Said the X, Not the Y!
I quickly learned the names of tools in our garage. Seeing how our dad was an electrical inspector by day and a shade tree mechanic on the weekends, we had a pretty well-stocked garage. He made well and sure I learned the names of tools. Oftentimes, as a kid, I worked as his “nurse” when he fixed something on the house or car. For example, while he was under a car he would yell out, “I need a 3/8-inch drive ratchet with a 6″ extension and a 1/2-inch 6 point socket”. I would scurry to find the right pieces and parts to give him what he needed.
5) Get Away from the Edge!
Since my dad worked as an electrical inspector at the famous Bethlehem Steel, he spent a lot of time high up on cranes fixing things. When you spend that much time up in the air, you get good at it. You also garner a proclivity for continuing to work up high—which is probably how my Dad ended up installing television antennas as a side job. Of course, he liked to take me with him on jobs. As we’d be walking around 3 story buildings I can still remember several of the things he yelled at me while helping. Primarily his warnings had to do with me staying away from the edges of the roof.
What made this memorable was that I never EVER got near the edge of the roof that I could remember. In fact, I have a pretty healthy fear of heights that was only (and remains to be) conquered by sheer mind over matter. No, sir, I don’t like it. Still, I’ll get up on a roof and get the job done if it calls for it. Just don’t ask me to enjoy myself.
How About You?
Of course, nowadays, my Father loves what I do. It doesn’t hurt that each year we come up with ideas for the Best Tool Gifts for Father’s Day. That’s bound to tone down the yelling in almost any circumstance!