Some things are simple to use

Nick Wolochatiuk - Dances With Words
Some things are simple to use

I recently got something that will probably be quite useful to me, but only after I figure out what’s printed on the lengthy instruction sheet that came with it. In the meantime, I’ll tell you about a really useful thing that I’ve been using since 1976.

It’s almost as tall as I am. One end is squared off and has the last 4” beveled. The rest of it is rounded, smooth and about twice the diameter of a broom handle. It’s really heavy. I don’t remember where I got it, other than I didn’t get it at a store. It was second-hand or more when it came into my possession. I quite often neglect to return it to the toolshed, but exposure to the elements never tarnishes its patina. There is no misuse, abuse or neglect that could damage it.

A factoid I encountered in a 1952 high school physics class gave me all I needed to know about how to use it. Without any accessory at all I started using it to pound holes for fence posts in the gravelly Glengarry ground.

I soon encountered a slab of sedimentary rock lurking just below the sparse topsoil. No amount of shovelling got it to budge. That’s when something from Physics 101 came to the rescue. It was the word ‘fulcrum’. I forced the bevelled end of my iron bar under the stubborn rock, with a small slab of split firewood under the bevelled end. No movement.

A thicker slab replaced the small one, closer to the tip of the bar. I put all my weight on the opposite end of the bar, then bounced vigorously on the high end as if it were a car jack or a water pump handle.

Finally, I fell to the ground, but shifted the rock. Fait accompli! The Law of Leverage states that with a long enough lever, a large fulcrum and sufficient downward force, anything in the world can be moved.

Back to what I mentioned at the beginning of my story. It’s a ‘puffer’, an inhaler prescribed for a recent bout of lung congestion.

The instruction sheet that came with it was lengthier than those given to an astronaut or nuclear reactor contractor. The font size 5 instructions repeatedly included terms such as “Failure to comply with these instructions can result in injury or death.” Also stated: “Serious side effects may include nausea, vomiting, numbness, pimples, fatigue, diarrhea and blurred vision”.

If the pry bar ever came with a set of instructions, I’m sure it made no mention of things like that.

Keep it simple for me – because I’m simple too.

Share this article