Poor Workmen

Kage Baker was a firm proponent of the adage, It’s a poor workman that blames his tools.

She felt that it was undoubtedly true in its original meaning, that it’s a chicken-weenie way to excuse your own bad work by claiming your hammer is sub-standard. However, she also maintained that sometimes your tools do fail you: and then you are not a bad workman, you are a pitiful and unfortunate one.

That’s when Kage would give in to her natural suspicion that all her tools were animate, at some unseen level, and berate them as acidly as she would have any clumsy mechanic.

(BTW and FYI, Kage and I had to learn a lot of mechanic work on our own, as her brothers were idiots and many of our gentleman friends were not handy with modern tools.  Car maintenance and repair, household electrical work, plumbing, carpentry – all the ordinary handyman stuff, one or the other or both of us learned how to do. And it became obvious that – while male workers curse out their tools and projects in feminine terms – the basic instinct of the workWOMAN is to call her recalcitrant lug nut, stripped screw or plumbing trap a bastardly son of a bitch. I’m sure there is a cosmic moral there, somewhere.)

Anyway, what Kage felt was that when your tools were good, you had no excuse or reason to blame them; they are, intrinsically, innocent. But when they manifest their demonic natures, then you are a victim, and entitled to accuse the malefactors and demand sympathy from the Universe.

Here in my L.A. household, we are definitely in the latter situation. The landlines are down and out, due to the phone lines being soggy and drooping from the torrential rain. Also, both the local cable and phone companies – the ones that are not already incestuously intertwined as providers – are all running around the neighborhood installing fiber-optic cables. When (and if) they are done, it will be a technological Paradise of speed and ease! And in the meantime, nothing works well or even at all.

And of course, the poor workers are also being cruelly abused by their tools while they try to do their jobs. They really are poor workmen today. It’s cold and windy, and the older trees in the neighborhood – mostly acacias and camphors – are falling down and dropping branches everywhere. Ladders slip in the soaked leaf mulch that fills the gutters. Everyone’s yards – winter-dead lawns and whole yards converted to now-drowning xeriscapes – are seas of mud. The L.A. River is in spate, full of dissolving islands and choked with fallen cottonwood, abandoned shopping carts and idiots on boogie boards.

 In the meantime: I don’t know why Facebook is messing with me, but it is. Might be due to a craving for the yummy new fiber-optics, but it’s probably just general FB buggery. Whatever it is, most of my incoming messages – aren’t. I am operating increasingly in the dark, here … Word Press keeps telling me I need to register, too; which is clearly some sort of TIA in their resident algorithm.

So, bitch bitch, moan moan. The streets are full of Comcast and ATT trucks, all surrounding by unhappy repairmen ducking wet squirrels, falling tree limbs and dive-bomber ravens. The land line is clicking and buzzing like a radioactive lobster, the aether is moving at a crawl, and the television keeps pixilating until Captain Janeway’s face looks like a dissolving sugar cube.

Oh, and my hands are cold. And my nose. Poor, poor me.

I can hear Kage jeering amiably in the back of my mind … although, if she got stuck somewhere between the Atlas Obscura site and Steam, she’d be cursing in 3 languages and 4 dialects of English. So I guess I can whinge a little.

Take that, you damned tools!

About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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2 Responses to Poor Workmen

  1. Luisa Puig says:

    Brilliant, Kathleen! I truly love the way you have with analogies.
    Wit and poetry. Beautiful.


    • Kate says:

      Thank you, Luisa! Pegging away here, and even though the Buke is misbehaving and my cell phone is dropping cells, the writing and knitting are proceeding in luxury in the Green Gable Inn.


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