I’ve spent the last decade of my life, more or less, hunched over a computer. It has affected my wrists, my hands and my lower back, and finding a decent way to eat without putting on weight is a constant struggle when you’re sitting all day. Working in journalism in the Hamptons may seem like a very social thing—and when interviewing someone or covering an event, it can be—but there’s nowhere to really hang out with other writers, no store where we buy the tools of our trade and talk shop. The act of writing is very solitary, the computer my only real tool.
Because of this, I’ve never really become very handy. I wake in the morning and get my coffee at Tate’s or 7-Eleven, and I notice that a lot of the dudes heading into those places to get their morning coffee are guys with pick-ups and tools.
Occasionally, I felt less manly.
But in the last two weeks, I’ve acquired a sander, a rotating saw, extension cords, work lights, a power drill and work gloves. And, by God, I want more of this stuff in my life.
I got all these things because I have a small sailboat I neglected last year and is in desperate need of a little TLC. The teak needs to be sanded and painted, a new rub rail needs to be installed, a new electrical system needs to be installed…the list of for this boat goes on and on.
Usually, the things I need to take care of the boat are bought from a guy who knows what he’s doing. For the most part, every year this consisted of paying a guy to paint the bottom of the boat and take it in and out of the water, and maybe I’d pay a guy to have it washed. This year, however, after smashing the bow into a dock so hard that the railing around the boat came almost completely undone, in addition to fiberglass damage and an unreliable electrical system, it was way out of my price range. I had one guy quote me nearly $4,000 for the repairs. So I figured that I would do it myself.
Our Director of Technology, Dennis Rodriguez, is a boat guy and knows how to fix things, and he pumped me up to find the confidence to attack these projects. Within one day, I was completely transformed, from David Rattiner, tall goofy guy who wears khaki’s and dress shirts every day even though he’s a local, to David Rattiner, guy with Timberland work boots and a power drill.
I fixed the rub rail in two days, working until 2 a.m. By the third day, my power tools and I started to have a relationship. They felt like armor in some way, empowering. I walked through the world and started noticing things that I thought needed fixing, felt irritated by little mistakes or cracks in paint jobs or flooring.
Personal power tools are something every single man should be required to own.
They make you feel like you can build an entire city if you had to. Need that tree taken down? Hang on, let me get my CHAINSAW!
In the Hamptons, I find that working with power tools redefines your place in life. The hardware store suddenly becomes your clubhouse, your work boots suddenly become your uniform, and your tools suddenly become a part of who you are. There are special places in your house for them and they are NOT to be touched BY ANYONE without your permission. Working with them elevates your mood. And suddenly my back feels a whole lot better.