November 30, 2002

An item in today’s mail informed me -- even before I opened the envelope -- that I have become an “Official Member” of something called the Handyman Club of America.

I’m honored. Really, I’m overwhelmed. Invitations like this don’t come along every day. Hell, invitations don’t come along every day. Groucho Marx never wanted to join a club that would have him as a member. As for me, the clubs I’ve wanted to join would never have me as a member. So when an unsolicited summons to participation such as that from the HCofA arrives, well, I’m flattered beyond words.

Included in my HCofA welcome package is a free drill bit guide. It’s a rectangular piece of white plastic that looks something like a stencil, measuring about 2 inches by 3.5 inches, with 29 holes of varying diameter, ranging from 1/16-inch to 1/2-inch, excluding two other holes, these presumably to be used to hang my drill bit guide on the peg board in my basement or garage shop.

I also received a membership card, certain to go into my wallet forthwith, and some really cool return-address labels, as well as offers to receive Handy magazine (Not available on newsstands!), access to the members-only HCofA web site (Sorry, you’ll have to find it yourself, or wait until you become a member.), a free My-T-Driver (It’s some kind of “multi-bit tool,” but I don’t quite understand it, even with the help of the free drawings.), free products and testing privileges, and club news!

I must act now, though, because if I don’t respond to today’s mailing, my membership in the HCofA will expire in 14 days. Typical. Let me join your little club but put a cut-off date on my membership.

What to do? I know one thing I can’t do, and that’s offer my membership to a friend or family member. I’ve been warned: “Your Handyman Club of America rights may not be transferred to others.” There are rights? What about responsibilities? Am I up to the task? Could I faithfully uphold the great traditions of the HCofA and live by its exacting code of conduct?

This is all too much. Frankly, I don’t know what I bought, or where, or when, or what I subscribe to, or once subscribed to, or what web site I visited that brought this on, but this is the most misguided mass mailing to come through here since the one about the girls with, well, never mind.

Although I own a toolbox, a gift from a sibling, its contents are used with an infrequency that has grown in recent years. And what I have used, I apparently have misused. Not long ago I learned I have been incorrectly deploying something called a “plain” or a “plane” as a substitute for a decent hammer. I’ve been advised that should I continue to do so, the plain, or plane, could become damaged, perhaps seriously enough that it cannot be put to its intended purpose.

Yikes! Sounds serious. And that intended purpose is . . . ?

As far as I’m concerned, a person needs just one tool: the telephone. There are families whose livelihoods depend upon my incompetence and while I may be one of the HCofA’s newest, albeit temporary, members, I’m not going to let those good people down now. Some of them have children!

Oh, but I am going to use the return-address labels HCofA sent. At least for the next 14 days.


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