Five screws are scotch-taped to my notepad beneath the penciled line about the cardiologist from Okemos who, seeking anonymity, came to an Ann Arbor for ear and back hair removal, only to find that the lady who does facials used to work in health care and knew him.
The screws, five-eighths of an inch, are leftovers from last week, when I installed new light fixtures in the upstairs hallway and master bathroom. Five-eighths screws wouldn’t do the job and I used the longer ones that came out with the old lamps. Yet I’m compelled to save the short screws. Hardware, like food, cannot be thrown away. Maybe one of these days I’ll build my own airplane from scratch and will need five screws just like these for holding the canopy hinge in place.
My dad used to have a coffee can that was full of odd-sized bolts and nuts. Reaching down a drain was about as pleasant as reaching into that can. In my garage, there are drawers and compartments and organizers, and machine screws like these go with other machine screws, Phillips segregated from slotted, and wood screws with their kind and sheet metal screws likewise. I have wire nuts, washers, carriage bolts, nails, window blind accessory items, and zip-ties. But it’s never enough: the variety of nails and wood screws, in particular, is ever insufficient.
There’s also the drawer devoted to spare parts. With the house came an underground sprinkler system that I don’t use, but I’ve kept important-looking pieces as well as tubes and cans of compounds, just in case the next guy is into automatic sprinkling. For indoor plumbing, a pair of flush valves for our odd, off-brand of toilets is in stock. A plastic bag stapled shut with three staples that are beginning to rust is labeled “Wire Shelving (Bsmt)” and contains black plastic feet and tube end caps. Then there are the coil springs. One is ten inches long; another, of stainless steel, is one and a half inches. When my homemade lander sets down on the moon, these will surely be part of the operation. Another bag holds fifteen springs that came out of the old chair I disassembled last summer in order to fit it inside the trash cart. The springs seemed too good to send to the landfill.
The odd thing about removing all these springs from the drawer is that it subsequently refused to close as the flush valves and underground sprinkler parts got all disarranged.
Still more cubbies and slots in another cabinet are rife with tiny paper and plastic envelopes that contain O-rings, rubber seals, a cap for a bicycle tire valve, Christmas lights, tail light bulbs (one slightly used), a pair of tiny coil springs for the motorcycle’s license plate assembly, grommets for my motorcycle jacket, and screws to seat the face shield of my helmet. Most of these should just be thrown out straightaway because I’ll never remember them when the time comes to replace or repair any of the aforementioned items.
On the other hand, these rubber seals look like just the sort of thing for use in the industrial-scale ear- and back-hair remover I have on tap for 2009.