Monday, February 23, 2009

It's tougher when you're stupid: adventures in home repair.

When I was in college, a few friends and I each had a piece of paper on our dorm room wall or door, a picture of John Wayne striking a pose in full WW II combat gear, with a saying printed on it: "Life is tough. It's tougher when you're stupid."

One of the friends found it somewhere and xeroxed it and passed it around to the group of us, who were all brainy kids constantly flummoxed by the stupidity we saw around us on a daily basis. Our small liberal-arts college was famous as a home of last resort for rich New England prep-school kids who had plenty of money but not enough brains for the Ivy League education their parents had no doubt planned for them since birth.

Since most of us in my group of friends were attending on a patched-together system of scholarships, grants, and loans, we had brains but no money. A 69-cent taco at Taco Bell was cause for celebration indeed.

Anyway, we felt rather superior to our less-gifted peers, any of whom could have bought and sold us then, and I'm sure could buy and sell us now. Brains are over-rated, I've learned.

Being 19-20 years old also contributed greatly to our smug sense of our own brightness. There's no one as smart as a 20-year-old, and no one more eager to let you know how smart she is.

This is all a long-winded introduction to the events of the past few days, which have proved to me the truth of John Wayne and his adage. Life is indeed tougher when you're stupid. And you grow stupider the older you get, apparently.

I mentioned that on Saturday we plopped down our new countertop for our vanity and discovered that since we'd never thought to measure it, the vanity top was too wide/deep. Standard size is 22" deep; our guest bath vanity is 19" deep.

So we returned it, and got a quote on a custom top at Home Depot. The price seemed good, but we wanted to check at Lowe's. The Lowe's price was surprisingly higher.

The next day we went back to Home Depot to order the top, but now the price was much higher there, too. Turns out the lady who gave us the quote checked the old binder from the manufacturer, which had much lower prices. I'm not quite sure why they don't throw these things away once the prices become obsolete...

Tonight Todd went back to see if he could browbeat the kitchen and bath lady into giving him the lower price. (Todd is a relentless browbeater when he's in search of a deal.) But no deal. So he went back over to Lowe's, which cheerfully not only matched the original Home Depot Price but also knocked off another 10%. Score!

Here's where the stupidity comes in. When he came home from work, and told me about it, I said, "You should have ordered another for the master bath at that price."

He said, "You're right." After all, the master bath is next on the remodeling list, and if we need a special order for one bath, we should get the special order for the other bath while the price is right. Right?

So after we ate dinner, we went back to Lowe's. While we were standing watching the guy type up the additional order:

Me: *chuckle to myself*
Todd: What?
Me: Oh, I was just thinking...I was in the master bath yesterday and I noticed that there's a lot more wall space in there. What if they put a bigger vanity in the master bath?
Todd: Hm.
Us: Nah, surely not. Why would they put two different size vanities in the bathrooms?
The Lowe's guy: So you want the 19" top, right?
Us: Yeah.

As soon as we got home, Todd measured the master bath vanity. Yep, it's 22" deep. Hence, no special order needed, and certainly no additional 19" deep countertop.

It's no big deal, we'll just cancel the order and buy a stock countertop. But how could two people be so stupid?

You may be thinking we're not that dumb. Anybody could not measure a vanity, and then not measure another vanity even after not measuring the first vanity led to all manner of hassle, right?

Well, let's move on to the matter of the vanity doors, shall we? Todd created new doors for the vanity (which look a treat, let me tell you!) The vanity had four doors, two that met in the middle, and one on each side of that. So I pulled off the doors, he measured one to get the dimensions and he built them, I primed and painted them, and last night we went to hang them.

The right center door went on, great. The far right door went on, great. We could tell where to hang them because the hinge marks were still impressed into the wood and the new hinges matched exactly.

Then Todd went to hang the left center door, the one that needs to match up and meet the right center door over the big center hole. And they didn't meet up, they overlapped.

Down to the garage I flew and brought up the original doors. And yes. The center doors are 1/4" smaller than the doors on the ends.

Again, it's not a tragedy. Todd moved the hinges out 1/4" on each side and hung the doors. However, since the hinge holes are already drilled, at some point in the next few days, I will have to take down the doors, fill the old holes, and sand, and prime, and paint that area all over again. Urgh. Just when I thought I had one project, at least, done.

Now you can see how our snafu at Lowe's tonight proves our stupidity once and for all. On Saturday we saw the folly of not measuring. On Sunday we saw the folly of not measuring. And on Monday, what did we do? Not measure!

Todd says he never would have made these mistakes at work. He's a mechanical engineer, for crying out loud. His whole career is based on correct measurements! So I asked him if that meant I bring out his latent stupidity. He said he thought that might be the case. Is this grounds for smothering him in his sleep?

The moral, my children: Never, never assume. Anything. In my younger, smarter days I thought a vanity's doors would surely all be the same size. Now I know better. But I'm still stupid.