August 8, 2022

Advice for Tools

When I “deboxed” a new tool the other day, the operating instructions fell to the floor. Ordinarily I pay little attention to operating instructions, until the tool fails to perform as expected. After all, I’m a guy, and guys know all about tools. I don’t need no stinkin’ instructions.

But these were underfoot; I couldn’t just let them lie there. I closed my eyes, and felt around for them, but finally had to peek. That’s when it happened. Right there on the front page in big, bold letters were those words no guy likes to see. “READ ALL INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE USING THIS PRODUCT!”

The next line really twisted the knife. “COMMON SENSE AND CAUTION ARE FACTORS WHICH CANNOT BE BUILT INTO ANY PRODUCT. THESE FACTORS MUST BE SUPPLIED BY THE OPERATOR. PLEASE REMEMBER:” And then it went on to list a whole page of “don’ts.” Don’t use this product under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Read warning labels on prescriptions (yeah right) . . . blah, blah, blah.

If no tool was ever used under the influence of alcohol (beer is alcohol, right?) we’d still be living in huts constructed entirely by hand, made from mud that was clawed out of a river bank and carried to the job site in our hands and armpits. I suppose we could carry one more small amount if we clenched really tightly, and we didn’t have to walk too far. We’d be naked of course, because it takes tools to make clothes.

Consequently, anyone who attempted to live north of where Mexico is currently located would have frozen to death. Fortunately, beer was invented long before the printing press, so we made a whole lot of progress before some guy came along and started printing safety instructions. I admit that we lost a few fingers, toes, ears, and maybe even a whole guy once in a while, because we failed to provide the proper amount of the common sense factor, but you gotta take the bad with the good. Right?

Besides, if the proper amount of common sense was always applied, no building would ever be more than one story tall and there would be no such thing as a mobile home in tornado or hurricane country. No one would drive a car on a public street, run with scissors, or swim within an hour of eating. I also could not wear loose clothing or jewelry, as they can be caught in moving parts. I would wear protective gloves, non-skid footwear and maintain proper footing and balance at all times. Ear and eye protection are essential, and I would always wear ANSI-approved impact goggles. To avoid risk of personal injury, equipment damage, fire and shock, my work area would be well lit, clean and uncluttered, as well as free of damp, wet or rainy conditions, and children. (We already know that my work area is uncluttered, that’s exactly why I picked up the operating instructions in the first place.)

Before using any tool, any part that appears damaged would be carefully checked to determine that it will operate properly and perform its intended function. And, of course, all clamps, locks, and bolts would be securely tightened. I’ll be honest. I’m glad I read those instructions, instead of just throwing them into a drawer. I have placed them in a spot were I can refer to them often. I had no idea there were so many things to consider before using an anvil. I am a little puzzled, though, about that “moving parts” thing.

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