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If I had a hammer ... my buttcrack would be showing

By Gloria Diaz

Check out Gloria's Blog — Edge of Gloria!

Fort Wayne Reader

2011-10-06


I get a kick out of advertising, because itís creatively sleazy. Youíre convincing people to spend their hard-earned moola on crap they donít need. It makes perfect sense that we have television commercials. Sponsors selling images are helping pay for the programs that portray lives that no one I know has.

My mother was the handyman in the house, and she would always get a chuckle out of This Old House, or any sort of home improvement show. The people on the show always look good. Their clothes are spotless (even if theyíve been painting) they arenít sweaty, their tools are top-notch and the banter sounds scripted, even if it isnít. Thereís no swearing, and if thereís a challenge, itís taken care of.

Of course, in reality, itís not like that. I look through home improvement books, and itís a world I will never inhabit. If Iíve hired anyone to do work in my house of any sort, the technician is usually friendly enough, but as for being spiffy, buff, well-spoken and have spotless tools, uh, not so much. I see it sometimes on a daily basis. Contractors come in for various things, and by no stretch of anyoneís imagination do they look like the guys in the books, magazines, commercials or television shows.

On the flip side of the mythical home improvement/technician who looks great, I know from experience itís hard to do. When you risk tearing your pants on parts of the truck, and you have to crawl around on someoneís floor to install a refrigerator water line, thereís a reason why you donít wear tuxedos on the job. A long time ago, a department I worked in got taken to task for looking scruffy and not resembling our counterparts in the nationally televised commercials. I pointed out that it was a bit of a stretch to ask us to look like professional actors, who didnít have to labor under the same conditions that we did. I also pointed out that I was smart enough to point out no matter how much LíOrťal cosmetics I applied to my face, no one would mistake me for Milla Jovovich, or whoever was shilling for the brand at the time. I do have nice clothes, but Iíll be damned if Iím going to wear my Seven jeans or Ralph Lauren shirts to a job where having hydraulic fluid squirt out at you (from a truck in need of repair) or paint spattered on you, or delivering a refrigerator to a house that reeks of cat urine is something that is a possible on the job hazard.

It would be nice if just once the handyman COULD actually resemble the scrubbed, polished ones that sell the magazines and books. It would be a welcome change from the greasy-haired, cigarette-reeking contractors. But reality certainly does bite.

I guess maybe thatís why television is so popular. We in the real world know what itís like. Weíd rather watch television and get caught up in the real or fictional drama of people who have bigger houses and nicer things, even if we know damn well they canít afford that three-bedroom house in the Chicago suburbs on a shoe salesmanís salary. A lot of people on television look perfect ó from the shows to the commercials. That floor refinishing project looked effortless! Weíll give it a shot! Several weeks later, your floor is still torn up, you look like you havenít slept in days, your work clothes look like theyíve been through World War III and youíre cursing Bob Vila and Vanilla Ice (he gave up rapping to use his MC Hammer, I guess) for making it look so easy. Make it easy on yourself ó call a professional, who will probably have twice the tattoos of Vanilla Ice, ratty clothes and just enough know how to make you feel like you gave up too soon. Maybe if you offer to videotape him doing his thing, heíll promise to dress better, and maybe heíll get your project done in a half hour, instead of the two months he originally said. Excluding commercials.

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