Sunday, August 28, 2016

"What's a hacksaw?"

A guy walks into a bike shop and he asks the guy working in the bike shop if they sell kickstands.

The shop mechanic says yes. So the guy asks if they have one to fit an 18 inch bike. The mechanic shows him the Greenfield 285mm generic model with the cutting scale marked right on it.

"See here on the package it tells you how to figure out the length and then cut it with a hacksaw," he tells the guy.

"What's a hacksaw?" the guy says.

I  was not a mechanically inclined child, and I knew what a hacksaw was by the time I was ten years old. I don't think I knew anyone, male, female, or other, who did not know what a hacksaw was. It was just part of the culture passed on without a second thought by adults who either fixed things or at least knew that they should.

Society has failed this man who has reached at least his thirties without knowing what a hacksaw is. I should have figured out a way to run through a short hand tool questionnaire with him to see what other items he's missed. It would tell us a lot about how far we've come from being a hands-on, can-do population to being served at all levels by people we hire to know what was common knowledge 30 years ago.

Granted, when I was a kid, geezers grumbled about skills being lost. It's part of evolution. But degeneration can hide among the thickets in what looks like evolution. No electronic marvel has superseded the hacksaw.

The kickstand is made of aluminum. You could probably shorten it by beating on it for a while with a sharp rock. Kind of funny to direct someone too modern to have heard of a hacksaw to use a stone tool instead. Even better if he worked that out for himself.


Anonymous said...

I run into this all the time, but among students at the technical school where I sometimes teach! It might be hard to actually find somebody under 30 (40?) who could take a jack plane apart, sharpen the blade and put it back together and adjust it. Or use a brace and bit if their electric drill gives up the ghost. I certainly knew not only what a hacksaw was at the age of ten, but also how to fit a new blade and knew which direction the teeth should go. But that was over 60 years ago.

If that guy has to tighten a bolt sometime, tell him to go out and buy a left-handed monkey wench.


mike w. said...

It's probably just as well he remains ignorant... some people are dangerous with tools in hand.