Odd jobs are strange things. They’re always small, and they hang around for a long time because they are inconsequential. Nothing bad happens if you don’t do them, and the benefit of doing isn’t great enough to drive action. So they hang around, on the margins of consciousness.
Occasionally I get all David Allan (he of Getting Things Done fame) on myself and empty my mental list of odd jobs onto paper. This is both a relief and completely disheartening because the list is so long, and so full of trivial things that I should have taken care of.
I look at these incidental things and think, that’s a 1 minute job, why on earth haven’t I done that? But instead of just doing it, I either ruminate on what has led me to not do this job for so long (answer? Ruminating on why I haven’t done it) or I realise I’m missing some vital bit for the job and put it off until next time I am at the appropriate store.
Today I knocked off one of the jobs on my mental list of minor repairs needed around home: my letterbox. Ever since I moved in (and Facebook tells me it was 6 -six! – years ago), the letterbox has lacked a latch. I have at various times used a twig or a wodged-up bit of paper to wedge it shut but clearly this has been a low-rent solution.
So yesterday I decided I would do the job. I put the drill on the charger and by morning it was charged. It takes 5 hours according to the sticker on the charging unit. Next, I drive to the hardware store, a 5km round trip, to get a single nail. I suspect this reinforced every stereotype they hold of women and DIY (men would probably buy a box of nails even if they only needed one) but God love them, they gave it to me for free.
I returned home and got the right size drill bit, measured the relevant distance and drilled the requisite hole. This took maybe 10 seconds. I inserted the nail and the letterbox is now latched shut.
This is typical of odd jobs and explains why they never get done: it required a car journey and charging the drill for 5 hours to do a job that took 10 seconds to complete. And what is the benefit? My bills no longer fall out of the box and blow away. Which they didn’t do when the paper or twig wedged it shut either. So really, it’s just a more permanent solution if a completely inelegant one (a nail through the side of the box into the flap, which I simply pull out to open).
But for all of that, I feel like I’ve Done Something this weekend, and when people at work ask what I did over the weekend I’m going to say proudly that I repaired my letterbox.