Tools Shed

I use a scissors to slit open the label covering the rigid plastic box. Once it’s removed, I can unfold the top. The box is grey, tough-looking, which is fitting for this Durabuilt 144-Piece Household Tool Kit.

With the kit spread open from the center, the box is exposed. It holds a wrench, pliers, scissors, screwdriver, hammer, and other tools. All packed in a  convenient carrying case.

The case has a handle, but when I lifted it off the store shelf, I found it too heavy, so I cradled in two arms and placed it in my shopping cart. My guilt felt as heavy as the tool kit.

It was just two days ago when I made this offer to my neighbor:  “I”m on a mission to clean our basement and rid it of  junk," I said to John. "Tommy has a wall full of dusty, old tools he doesn’t use. Would you be interested?”

“What do you want for them?” he asked.

“If you haul them out, along with all of the other clutter, they’re yours.”

Of course, I had asked Tommy first. “Honey,” I said, “how do you feel about giving John the tools in the basement? You’ve got enough in the kitchen cabinet for repairs. He plows our driveway in the winter; this would be a way of thanking him.”

Tommy gave me two thumbs up. That was enough to give me clearance for full speed ahead on the de-shedding.

It was a different scenario when we first moved into this house in 2000, two years after we were married. I was happy watching my new husband assemble his basement workroom. He mounted a peg board on a wall, inserted hooks, and one-by-one attached tools he had accumulated over the years.

And he continued to buy more, often calling out to me, “Home Depot” as he rushed out the door. He’d return with just the right-sized hammer, or perfect wrench, or saw, or some other needed implement.

I’d encourage him. “Honey,” I’d say, “I need a shelf for my office. Can you do that?” Any project  I could think of that would get Tommy down the stairs to gather materials would make us both happy.

The piles of wood that my husband accumulated -- and that John eventually packed into the recyclable can -- were stockpiled during Tommy’s alley trips. When we walked the dog, he’d pause at each opening, check to see if anyone had discarded wood, and if so, change our direction until he had the lumber on his shoulder. On the route home, he looked like the leader of a Christmas procession.

On the day of the removal, John shouted up to me, “Come down and let me know if there’s anything else you want out of here.”

“Want to help us?” I asked my husband. He put two thumbs down, put on his radio headphones, and left the house for his afternoon walk around the park.

In the basement with John, I waved a hand across the wall of tools and pointed to lengths of twine, rope, extension cords that were looped on a hook, to dusty containers that held casters of various sizes, to plastic bags filled with bits of unknown origin. “All out,” I said.

After John carted away the debris, and left the house, Tommy returned from his walk. He opened the basement door and started down the stairs. I followed.  At the foot of the stairs, we looked at the bare wall that once held the peg board and tools. We walked further in and saw the basement, junk-free with its remaining file boxes, golf equipment, gardening tools, and paint supplies neatly stacked on metal shelves.

Tommy's worktable was clean except for the TV, cable box, and tape player. He tried the devices; they were working properly. Before he turned to go back up the stairs, he stared at the blank wall. He made no gestures to tell me what he was thinking. No thumbs up or down. No post-it notes with written clues. He just stared.

I put a hand on his arm, and said, “Honey, when we go to Target this weekend, I’ll buy you a new tool kit. Okay?” He put two thumbs up.

So that’s what I did. Now the Durabuilt 144-Piece Household Tool Kit with "Ergonomic Grip, Wrench, Pliers, Scissors, Carrying Case, Screwdriver, and Hammer" that carries a "Lifetime Limited Manufacturer Warranty," sits open and waiting on the workshop’s table.

I have to think of a project that needs Tommy’s attention. A new peg board might be a start.