I had a little shock when I walked into work Tuesday morning and saw the state of my office.
Everything was still standing.
I work with careful people in a quiet, tidy building, so it’s almost always a safe bet that everything will be as orderly when we show up for the day as it was when we shut down the night before.
But where’s the fun in a safe bet when you can have the thrill of a wild card?
I shuffled one into the deck Monday evening by pitting my do-it-yourself skills against the force of gravity and then turning out the lights to let them wrestle overnight.
If anyone noticed me setting it up, it must have looked like all I’d done was hang a magnetic bulletin board over my desk.
But those who know my history with do-it-yourself projects would have seen it for the gamble it was.
And this gamble involved a wobbly 64-inch sheet of galvanized steel with a hidden, razor-sharp jagged seam, all wrapped in a double layer of cloth and duct tape, and held up with hook-and-loop fasteners.
Because I try to be thrifty (or hopelessly cheap, if you ask my boys), it hurts to pay for something that I’m able to make myself. This would be admirable if I had a better handle on the limits of what, in fact, I am able to make myself, but I’m a little blind that way.
I blame my friend Sam. His younger brother grew up with a lot of wrecked toys because Sam was always taking them apart to see how they worked, and he never seemed able to put them back together once his curiosity was satisfied.
By the time Sam and I were in high school that brother had learned to protect his stuff, so Sam was happy to show up with his toolbox or soldering iron any time I needed a hand with something.
Often this worked out well, like the time we managed to mount a CD player in my glove box for some reason that seemed important at the time, and wired it to a homemade plywood-and-pushbutton control panel that we wedged into the dashboard.
On a less lucky day, we’d be holding a coffee can full of parts from three brake assemblies while we assured each other that by paying closer attention to how the fourth one came apart, we’d be able to get everything back in place without having to pay a mechanic to come put my truck back together. Friends, we were wrong.
But the satisfaction that came from the times we were right still fuels the drive to reach for my toolbox instead of my wallet.
So when I decided that my office needed a magnetic bulletin board — and that it would be a waste to expense one when I could probably make it myself once I got my hands on two pieces of floor joist lining and a pair of tin snips — the cards were dealt.
I ended up with something that’s junkyard ugly on the side that’s pressed against the wall, but looks sharp where it matters.
The only question left was whether the fabric fasteners I’d chosen to hang it were A) applied correctly and B) really able to hold all the weight that the packages claimed.
Seeing that the answer was yes on both counts, I should be content to have won this gamble.
But I don’t know. Those tin snips are still sharp, there’s a big roll of duct tape left, and I really want to let it ride with another project.
Richard Espinoza is a former editor of the Johnson County Neighborhood News. You can reach him at email@example.com.