In retrospect it is pretty funny to look back on, but at the time it was not in the least bit funny! This happened when was I was living in Philadelphia and I was about 6 months pregnant with my daughter. This particular Saturday, her father was away at his monthly Army Reserve training and I was at home alone.
I had made it my mission to get to work on finishing my daughter’s nursery, which was way behind schedule. Since we lived in a row house built in the late 1940s it had several decades of wallpaper that needed to be removed, and not the vinyl kind that peels gently from the wall. No, this was the hyper dried out paper kind, about 7 layers of it that clung to the wall for its dear life!
Having manages to scrape it off the walls, what was left behind was a rough, dried old glue kind of surface that was in desperate need of sanding. This was a task I was certain I could handle in my delicate state. We had just purchased a flat sander for the occasions and I set to work on getting everything situated for the job. The step stool was ready, the drop cloths were in place, my dust mask was at the ready. The only thing left was to unpack the sander.
I had seen my father do thousands of repairs around the house growing up and I am pretty competent mechanically. It’s a sander, how complicated could it be, right? For reasons that to this day still escape me (I’ll just blame it on the hormones), I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to get the sandpaper into the brackets on the sander! And before you ask, yes, I read the instructions, several times. I looked at the pictures as well, but to no avail.
I was cursing and screaming obscenities at it that would make a sailor blush, but it further vexed me with its utter lack of cooperation. I literally fought with that goddamned thing for a half an hour before collapsing on the floor in a puddle of gushing tears because I couldn’t figure it out. Mechanical things are not supposed to be smarter than me! I felt so much rage towards it that I felt the urge to launch it out the bedroom window.
Rather than acting on that impulse, which was quite strong by that point, I walked away – still crying and defeated. After her father talked me off the hormonal ledge, I went back upstairs in a calmer frame of mind and figured it out. It was so absurdly simple I felt as stupid as ever for not having figured it out in the first place. Though in my defense a better illustration of the mechanics would have proved extraordinarily useful.