Maxed out 

The right tool, and tax, for the job

When the only tool you own is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. That?s a famous saying. It?s probably Chinese. Every famous saying seems to be Chinese. That?s because the Chinese have been around for so long and lived outside of the glare of Western eyes for so many centuries that no one is really sure ? not even the Chinese ? what exactly they really deserve credit for. Personally, I draw the line at pizza and spaghetti but I?ll gladly give them the nod for fireworks and, of course, moo shu pork. Chow mein was invented by Americans though, not that that has anything to do with the topic.

I believe a hammer was the first tool I ever got my hands on. It took a few days for my parents to realize what a horrible mistake they?d made leaving it around but by the time they took it away I can personally attest to the fact everything in the house looked like a nail to me.

Then there was my pliers period when everything, especially my sister?s fingers, looked like something to be plied.

Eventually though, I came to appreciate the subtle beauty of tools in their myriad forms and functions. That was some time after my father forbade me to ever touch a tool again. Which was right after I?d taken the lawn mower?s engine apart and wondered why there were so many pieces left after I?d put it back together.

So while part of me still likes to think there?s no such thing as a problem too big ? just a hammer too small ? I am a True Believer in having the right tool for the job. As a final aside, I?d like to note a screwdriver is definitely not the right tool if the job at hand is defrosting a freezer. Those coils are really, really soft metal. Use a blowtorch.

Over the years I?ve collected lots of tools. Some perform multiple tasks. Vise-grips, for example, will handily strip any size nut they?re torqued down on, as well as extract a perfectly good tooth if a drunk accidentally and mistakenly locks them onto the wrong one and pulls until he passes out, just one of the interesting stories you get to tell if you?ve worked the graveyard shift at a gas station on Route 66.

Other tools are highly specialized. I have a socket about the size of my fist that only fits the nut holding an air-cooled Volkswagen?s fan onto its shaft. It cost as much as hiring a mechanic and has only been used three times. If you want to buy it, call the Pique.

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