Opinion: Remembering the fixer


We have a great fix-it guy. His name is Randy. Handy Randy has a lot to live up to. Our last handyman died 13 years ago this month. It’s taken us that long to find a replacement for Steve. And a replacement for the missing hallway floor tile, and the bathroom faucet handle, and the bulb for the refrigerator.

Here’s a memory of Steve from 2005.

When Steve comes over, we sit and chat about his kids and his grandkids. Then, he gets around to his infirmities and then his wife’s cousins who are overstaying their visit. And finally, how things are going at his regular job — which, interestingly, is just talking to people on the phone about their problems. And he’s not a therapist: He’s an acoustical engineer.

Then, it’s time for a little lunch. After about an hour, I do something rude. I ask Steve about actually fixing something.

“Steve, sorry to interrupt, but can we talk about fixing the hinge on the front door?”

I should be more careful with how I phrase things, because for the next hour that’s exactly what we do. Last week, I learned a lot about the rich history of the door hinge, the benefits of stainless steel over iron, and the evolution of the pin that allows the hinge to move freely.

But my door still didn’t close well.

“I’ll have to fix that hinge another time,” Steve said. “It’s getting late.”

“It wasn’t late when you got here six hours ago.”

“Dick, these things take time. What’s a good day for me to come back?”

“Why are you coming back? We can do what we do over the phone.”

Despite my kidding, Steve was our savior. Steve could fix anything, except the cancer that finally took him, the result of years of working around asbestos at his full-time job.

After he passed, I appreciated his skill and friendship even more, and I wrote a tribute to him that I will share with you next week. As I write this, Randy is upstairs installing mirrors in our new bathrooms. Randy has become a pal as well. That’s the kind of guy you need when you’re in a fix.

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