Dan Kirkwood: Do it yourself in the dorm

There’s nothing like owning a few tools to make a man (or lady) feel invincible. There’s nothing like a little excursion into home repair, however, to teach us that we know nothing about tools.

With our society’s culture of self reliance quickly eroding, it’s important that we teach ourselves a little about how the hardware around us works. Thankfully, the slow response times for repair services on campus makes GW the perfect place to do just that.

In the early days of automobiles, just about every guy knew how to rip apart and reassemble a Ford Model T. John Steinbeck reckoned that men then knew more about the spark plug of this car than the clitoris. That culture is dying out, and while the understanding of the clitoris may be one of the greatest accomplishments of the 20th century, it’s still good to know how to swing a hammer.

Last year, my roommates and I spent the entire year hassling Ambling Management as they took their sweet old time replacing the fan above our stove. As a result of the missing fan, the fire alarm went off when we cooked. Another issue was a mysterious leak somewhere in our room that kept soaking our carpet. Halfway through the year, with no help on the horizon, we rolled up our sleeves and get to work.

I bought a new can of WD-40 and soaked every hinge I could find with the stuff. We got this awesome level and my roommate fixed our bathroom door, so that it actually closed. I fixed our toilet and sawed some board for supports under my mattress. We all took turns nailing the frame for the futon back together, and let me tell you, we felt pretty damn handy.

If there is something broken in your room, have a go at it before you call Fix-It. If you don’t know how to fix it, there are plenty of resources online and in bookstores to help. Only after you’ve thoroughly demolished whatever you set out to repair, then call the help line. If you’ve really gone to town, consider Critical Call).

This lovely condition can help you find out what happens when you try to repair a hole in the wall with aluminum foil and toothpaste. Besides, you don’t want University staff coming into your room and turning a screw while you sit there feeling emasculated (or what ever the female equivalent is). You should try it first, as long as it isn’t electrical wiring, which is serious stuff that you ought to leave to the pros.

You certainly don’t have to be a guy to be handy. I’ve seen plenty of ingenious repairs by lady friends that would have left me bamboozled. Why is home repair seen as a male domain? I don’t know, but I see no reason why girls can’t have a go at fixing things. Besides, fantasizing about sex isn’t the only thing that makes you sexy, as The Hatchet’s sex columnist would suggest – being competent helps, too.

The sort of fiddling I’m talking about is part of our college education. What will we do when we find a leaky u-bend in our first house – call Fix-It? Self-reliance is one of the lessons of our college years, and we need to beware not to enter the real world without it.

The University would probably be terrified at the thought of all of us attempting domestic repairs. We could get hurt, we could get splinters and, worst of all, we could break something they own. If that’s the case, then they should create a fix-it system that responds in a timely manner to student concerns. But the thought of their terror is enough to get me excited about tackling that leaky faucet, clattering AC unit and weak-flushing toilet. Get a hammer, some duct tape and WD-40, and you can learn that, like me, you too may know absolutely nothing about home repair.

-The writer is a junior majoring in geography.

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