Educator’s Corner: Home improvement woes

Soraya Bilbao, Guest Columnist

Editor’s note: Educator’s Corner is column space for DHS teachers, counselors, administrators and staff to submit pieces for publication. Just email [email protected] and make your pitch!

“Gosh, this seemed like such a good idea at the time.” This is what usually pops in my head whenever I find myself in the midst of some home improvement project. And I’m not talking about major projects, such as remodeling the kitchen or re-tiling the bathroom floor. I’m talking about projects that take the average person minutes to complete, but which take on a never-ending quality when I take them on.

Take for instance changing mini blinds. It might take the average person, what, maybe 30 minutes or so to replace? Not so when I’m involved!

While at mom’s house, I decided to replace the mini blinds in one of the spare bedrooms. How hard could it be? So I drove to my local home improvement store to purchase the new blinds.

I walked over to the window treatment aisle and asked one of the store reps for help in selecting the blinds. “Great,” he said. “What’s the width of the window?”

The width? It hadn’t dawned on me that window frames could come in different sizes. I had just assumed that window frames were a one-size fits-all kind of deal. So, with an “I’ll be back,” I turned around, got in my car, and drove back to mom’s to measure the window.

This of course, should have been a sign of things to come, but I was experiencing a Bob Vila moment and nothing was going to deter me from replacing those blinds.

I measured the width, drove back to the store, and bought the mini blinds destined for my impending home improvement project.

Back at mom’s, it quickly became apparent that whoever wrote the instructions for installing the mini blinds, a) might have benefited from a refresher course on English grammar, b) did not bother to submit the document through spell check, and c) must have flunked art.

Soraya Bilbao

For as much as I tried, I couldn’t make heads or tails of the written instructions or the stick-figure drawings that were supposed to resemble the various assembly parts.

By step 1, I was hopelessly lost.

Finally, after more than an hour trying to decipher the hieroglyphics that were surely taken from some long lost civilization, I decided to call a home improvement expert, my sister.

Between my sister and I, she has always been the handier of the two.

As kids, she was the one who was completely captivated when our dad would call us over to teach us how to change the oil in the car. Me? I moaned and groaned and was an unwilling participant in such teachable moments.

She has even changed a flat tire. She mentioned this in passing several years back. “Oh, yesterday I went to get groceries, changed a flat tire, and took the boys to soccer practice.” Me? I couldn’t even begin to tell you how to use the thingamajig that came with my car and that was supposedly manufactured to aid in such a task.

So with this in mind, I called my sister for help.

Unfortunately, although she did happen to have experience replacing mini blinds, I found that following someone’s instructions over the phone was just as challenging as trying to follow the cryptogram manufacturers were trying to pass off as assembly instructions.

Therefore, I was left with no other alternative.

I repackaged the mini blinds into their original packaging and slid them under the bed where they stayed for several months collecting dust bunnies. Since I had already taken down the old mini blinds, the room sat blind-less for some time.

At some point, I finally did manage to hang the new blinds. I did so after some hammering of nails — mine, not the store-bought kind, some colorful remarks unsuitable for anyone under 21, and several leftover parts that originally came with the blinds, but that somehow did not make their way into the final product.

And as I admired my handiwork, I thought, “Mmm, I think the bathroom faucet needs replacing.”

— Soraya Bilbao is an ESL teacher at DHS and a frequent guest columnist.