Reader: Athol, long time reader here, occasional poster.
I was wondering what your thoughts are in relation to the alpha/beta nature of what I call ‘garage work’. I’m not talking home improvement/landscaping type stuff particularly, but projects that usually involve moving parts, wrenches, and grease, where it has become increasingly normal to outsource the work at quick-change drive throughs, service centers, or Wal Mart…
I was once of the opinion that the fact that I could afford to pay others to do these things for us was an alpha signal to my wife, a sign of surplus resources.
About a year ago my wife ran over tree branch that had fallen in the road, and it punctured her car’s radiator (no other damage). I was trying to get it in the shop for repairs, and nobody was going to be able to work on it for a week or so. It was a Saturday and I wasn’t very busy, so I drove by a salvage yard, and they just happened to have a parts car there of the same model with a good radiator, which I proceeded to bring home and install.
The response from my wife was incredible. I knew she would be grateful for me fixing her car, but I completely underestimated how impressed she would be. I think she had no idea I was capable of fixing it (after 10 years of marriage and an untold number of home remodeling/repair projects), and it was like she had just discovered her husband had an secret identity as a Jedi Knight. The adoration was almost as wonderful as the sex.
Since then, I’ve started scheduling time to change the oil on our vehicles myself, rotate tires, and just do basic maintenance work. Instead of buying new lawn mower blades once or twice a summer, I take the old ones off and sharpen them on a bench grinder (usually timing it just right so that my wife sees, thus ensuring the sparks in her vajayjay are more impressive than the ones bouncing off the shop floor). Whereas my old view was, “I don’t have time to do this stuff, I’m just going to pay somebody else to do it.”, my new view is, “I wonder if I were to unplug her car speakers and then “fix” them for her this weekend, if the sex would justify the effort?”
It’s not really the finances that drive me to do this… I could easily afford to pay somebody to do this stuff, as I did for years. I could put the time I spend doing this stuff to much more productive use.
But the response is fairly consistent and totally worth it.
In short, I think the “alpha” of being seen as a capable man with special knowledge trumps the “alpha” of having enough surplus resources to outsource trivial tasks.
Athol: Man’s use of tools is the original Alpha Male skill.
Not to weird you out or anything, but maybe her dad used to do some of that sort of stuff. Dad = The Man therefore You = Dad = The Man
Or maybe it’s simply that when you bring stuff to the garage, other men fix the problem. And it’s the guy fixing the problem that gets the credit… no matter who pays for it. The having money part being Beta / comfort building in nature would tend to suggest that.
Unfortunately for me though, when I open up the hood of a car I’m pretty much looking for a large red ON / OFF switch set to the OFF position… “Ahhh I think I see what the problem is honey, lemme try something…”
That being said, you sure as hell better learn how to change a tire and use jumper cables. No excuses. Below is a wee video explaining how to do just that.
Or as dear old dad taught me…. “Red to the dead, black back.”
Also do not experiment with squeezing your fingers or other body parts in the jumper cable clamps just because they look like giant clothes pegs and you have a compulsion. That’s all I’m saying.