Yellacat Ranch Under a Western Sky

Hard On Equipment

H

I participate in a genealogy community where I often end up working with this woman EH. She’s not a particularly good genealogist. In fact, she’s quite awful. Her confidence in her own abilities far exceeds anything rational, but that doesn’t stop her from having an opinion about anything and everything.

Everyone loves her, though. She’s a bit like Donald Trump in that way. She’s got an ear for political advantage. She’s an unfailing cheerleader for those who resent the system but if one of her lame ducks breaks something it’s not her problem, and if there’s ever any bad news to be delivered she’s off doing something else.

So here’s the funny thing. The other night I had a dream that connected Erica to a familiar character type. We all know the guy who never uses the right tool so his projects are a mess. That’s Erica.

In my dream she was the guy in the Corb Lund song, Hard On Equipment.

I recommend going over to YouTube to hear it, but if you don’t have time:

He's been roundin' off bolts since the age of fourteen 
Was that a five-eighths or a nine-sixteenths?
He's got a metric socket that don't quite fit
Well it'll wiggle just a little but it ain't quite stripped

The safety guard's gone from his grinding machine
He got a stiff paint brush he only sorta got clean
He's the hired man, the neighbor and a cousin in law
He's a jerry riggin' fool, he got the tool for the job

Well it's vise grips for pliers, pliers for a wrench
A wrench for a hammer, hammer's everything else
It just don't seem to make much difference
I sure do like him but he's hard on equipment

His corners ain't square and his floor ain't level
And he's always had trouble with the old tape measure
His doors don't close 'cause the jamb ain't plumb
And he's a Goddamn menace with an air nail gun

They love to see him comin' at the lumberyard store
Fixed the leak in his roof with a two by four
Drilled holes in his boards with the wrong kinda bit
And when they don't line up he blames the government

He got the whole front yard full of fix 'em up cars
Three don't run and the rest won't start
Well, everything's fine with his rebuilt motor
Except of course for the couple spare washers left over

Baler wire tie-downs goin' down the road
On two bald tires and an oversize load
He ain't never read a manual 'cause that's like cheatin'
He don't mind the grease on his hands while he's eatin'

He's got busted up knuckles, his thumb got bruised
Jesus Christ was a carpenter, too

And that’s EH in a nutshell. Stop for a minute and think what that looks like applied to genealogy. Deep breath.

Yellacat Ranch Under a Western Sky
Justin Swanstrom

Justin Swanstrom

Made in America. Retired attorney. Bookseller at Shining Lotus. No Nazis in Valhalla. He/him.

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