By Jerry Zezima
The Stamford Advocate
As the Least Handy Man in America, a title I bestowed on myself when my wife and I moved into our house 10 years ago, I have been known to throw a monkey wrench into every home improvement project I have ever undertaken. Unfortunately, a monkey wrench is often the only tool I can find.
Or at least it was until I met Jerry Guirlinger, who not only may be the Most Handy Man in America, but who knows an Allen wrench from a monkey wrench. He also knows that a screwdriver is not necessarily vodka and orange juice but concedes that it can be a valuable tool in a difficult home improvement project.
The only other person I know who is as handy as Guirlinger is another Jerry, my father, the original and by far the best Jerry Zezima.
The only other person I know who is as inept as I am is yet another Jerry, Jerry Howard, better known as Curly of the Three Stooges.
I never knew Curly personally because he died before I was born, but I once met his daughter and granddaughter at a Three Stooges convention. Neither one had a shaved head, but they were very nice and said Curly was, too, so I felt like I knew him.
Anyway, the Stooges wielded tools in a way that was painfully funny, which is why my mother didn’t want me to watch them when I was a kid. I guess she was afraid I would get a hammer from my father’s tool cabinet and hit one of my sisters over the head with it. I would never do that because it would have ruined the hammer.
But at least I knew where the hammer was. That’s because my father was – and, at 91, still is – so organized. Unfortunately, his organizational skills have skipped a generation with me.
That was evident when my father visited recently and saw first hand, in which he has expertly used many a hammer, wrench and screwdriver over the years, just how disorganized I am when it comes to tools, most of which he has given to me. They are tossed, willy-nilly, which would be a good name for me, in several toolboxes in the garage.
"You should know where all your tools are," my father said.
"I do know where all my tools are," I replied. "It’s just that I can never find the one I want."
Enter Guirlinger, who made a house call recently with his handyman invention, Mobile-Shop, a portable organizer than can hold 230 tools and even has a small shelf that serves as a bar where you can make yourself a screwdriver.
"Sometimes you need one," said Guirlinger, who is based in Columbus, Ohio, but had come east on a business trip. He stopped by one morning with his vice president of sales, Angelo Mazzella, who drove down to New York from Milford, N.H.
"The good news," Guirlinger said as he surveyed the chaos in my garage, "is that you’re actually pretty normal. The bad news," he added, "is that you have a lot of chaos."
Mazzella was especially amused by my vintage collection, including a wooden extension ruler that I didn’t know I had and obviously hadn’t used in a long time. "This is pretty old," he noted.
"Well," I said, "there’s no tool like an old tool."
I’m surprised he didn’t hit me over the head with a hammer. Then again, he probably couldn’t find one.
That wouldn’t be the case with Mobile-Shop (more info at mobile-shop.com) because everything would be at my fingertips, which I am lucky to still have considering the way I use saws. In addition to the aforementioned 230 tools, which come with the wheeled contraption and are kept in labeled pockets, there is a first-aid kit.
"That might come in handy for you," Guirlinger said.
I was pretty impressed with Mobile-Shop, which is 40-by-26-by-21 inches and weighs 140 pounds fully stocked, but I couldn’t find a drill to extract $3,167 from my bank account, so I haven’t purchased one yet.
But Guirlinger and Mazzella did give me some valuable tips on how to be handier and more organized with my tools. Will I ever be in the same class as my father? No. Am I now better than Curly? Soitenly! Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk!
Copyright 2008 by Jerry Zezima