This past weekend was pretty typical. I got up early, fed the animals, brewed up a pot of high-test, and headed out to the garage to spend a bit of quality time with one of my perpetual projects. With a too full mug o' coffee in one hand I walked through the door into the darkened interior of my much too small two-car garage/workshop and headed to the wall switch to turn on the lights. As I closed the distance and reached out blindly toward the switch, it happened-smack! Before I knew what was happening I was tumbling ass over teakettle, steaming hot coffee flying through the air in an arc, destined to drench anything in its path.
I landed (quite ungracefully, I might add) in a rumpled pile, half draped over an 8-inch Ford rearend housing and a coil of knotted air hose. My shin felt as though it'd been introduced to the business end of an air chisel and the palm of my hand was nearly permanently tattooed with the indentation of the 9/16 open-end that'd been left unceremoniously on the floor. Dazed (I mean even more so than normal) and in what I can only imagine was a less than flattering pose, I laid there cursing the moron that left whatever it was I'd tripped over in the middle of the floor. That is, until I remembered that I'd been the only one that'd worked in the shop for days. After taking a moment to gather my wits (and to give myself a mental tongue lashing for being such a schmuck), I untangled myself from the mess on the floor and finally made it to the switch. Click, on go the lights, and I could at last see what it was that I tripped over as well as survey the mess caused by my flying morning coffee.
Standing there rubbing my bruised and battered shin and looking over the shop, I was amazed at how a garage can be transformed from a fine example of a home shop to 600 square feet of scattered tools, air hoses, extension cords, and truck/car parts in such short notice. Lord knows I don't let it get that way intentionally. But, somehow, during periods of intense thrashing, I find myself making many more trips to my rollaway to fetch tools rather than to return them to their designated places.
Well, needless to say, the rest of that particular day was spent cleaning the shop rather than wrenching. In fact, my housekeeping was so thorough that I surpassed what I would normally have called an extensive cleanup session and crossed over the line into what could (for me anyway) only be called a massive undertaking. I not only moved and picked up everything on the floor, I even went as far as (gasp) pulling things out from underneath the workbenches, out from behind the compressor and sandblasting cabinet, and even into the scrap metal pile. The whole sordid affair took 10 hours. Hours that, if I'd only had the forethought to stay on top of things in the first place, could actually have gone to much better use actually working on a project-not digging through crap just trying to find it!
So, if there is a point to make or lesson a lesson to be learned from this rambling, it's to always allow yourself a bit of time at the end of a long day of thrashing to clean up the shop and put away the tools. I've learned the hard way that a half-hour here and there sure beats an all-day session in the shop that doesn't get the project any closer to completion. And working in an orderly environment actually increases the amount of work you get done, plus it's a heck of a lot easier on the shins, as well.
Well, the editorial you've just read was written 3 years ago, and the situation recently repeated itself nearly exactly as it did the first time. You'd have thought I would have learned my lesson and practiced what I'd preached. Well, I did for a while anyway, and I guess it was just time for a refresher course for me, and a reminder for you. Try and heed this advice a bit better than I, for the body parts you save and the injuries you prevent just well may be those of your spouse or children. -RIZ
P.S. I'm moving the light switch closer to the door.