Friday, March 23, 2007

Why don’t carpenters use their brains too?

Carpenter who has been carpenter all his life should be an expert! That is what I believed!

My computer cabinet had one glass panel broken and needed a replacement. I met this carpenter, whom I have been seeing since last 25 years, and thought maybe I should ask him to do the needful.

“Come to my house at 11.00am, I have some minor job for you.” I told him politely

At 11.00am sharp, this carpenter stood, grinning at my door. Wow! This carpenter is punctual! I took him in, to my computer cabinet and showed him the glass door that had come off the hinges. The corner end of the glass had chipped off and fallen off the hinges.
He told me that it was an easy task and it would cost me only Rs200.

Rupees two hundred required for just fixing one panel of glass to the cabinet? Gosh! He is as expensive as the visiting doctor! But do I have a choice? If it needs to be fixed, it has to be fixed! It was important to cover the cabinet with glass to prevent my precious machine from getting dirty

I agreed to dole out Rs200. Expertly he looked at the glass, turned it 180 degrees and decided to use the same glass at the other end to the hinges. He told me that he needs to take the panel to the workshop to smoothen the corner that had chipped off, justifying the ragged end might hurt my hand. Okay! How thoughtful!

At 12 noon, he was back from the workshop, proudly showing me the smoothened end of the corner that had chipped off. He sat down to fit the glass to the hinges. He unscrewed the hinges from the cabinet and tried to figure out how to insert the glass into the hinges.

The hinges to hold glass have a u-shaped opening through which the glass is inserted and the other end can be nailed to the cabinet. There are two types of hinges, one can be attached to the side of the cabinet and other type can be attached to the top-end and lower-end at right angles to the cabinet.

The hinges that were attached to my cabinet were designed in such a way that they will hold glass in its u-shaped opening and the other end has the plate that can be nailed to the side of the cabinet. He tried to insert the glass inside the u-shaped opening, but the glass was thicker than the gap in the hinge. He decided to broaden the gap by inserting the screw driver into the gap and hammering it. Boom! The hinge split open and broke into two pieces. He looked apologetically. He would have to go to the hard ware store to buy new hinges. This would cost me another Rs150.

Rs150 for a new hinge! Are the hinges so expensive? He reasoned that they were available only in pairs and they were made of brass, very durable. Very durable! He just broke one! I handed him Rs150 and off he went, shopping for hinges.

At 2.00pm, he was back, but with the different type of hinges, these had a plate that can be attached to the top and bottom end at right angles to the cabinet. He had toured many shops but the kind that he had just broken was not available in any shop. Therefore he had opted for this another type. The problem that he found out, when he sat down to work, was that this kind of the hinge was that this type of hinge can be attached only to the bottom end of the cabinet; it could not be attached to the top end, because the top end was the drawer that moved and held the key board. (I would expect an experienced carpenter of 25 years to reason this out before buying this type)

He now decided to use the new type to the bottom end and the old type could be attached to the side of the cabinet at the top end. Since the glass did not fit into the u-shaped opening, he decided to take the glass to the workshop to scrape off the thickness of that end. (Had he thought of this before he would not have broken the hinge, nor bought a new pair of hinges!)

At 3.00pm he was back from the workshop with one end of glass pane scraped to fit into the hinge. Oops! As soon as he inserted the scraped end into the hinge, it broke. The end was scraped too much! I would now need to buy a new glass panel that would cost me another Rs500! (Why must I pay for his clumsiness? I am not allowed to punish the poor? Moral ethics! Indeed!)

At 4.00pm he is back with a new glass, this time half centimeter smaller than the original size.

He tries to fit the hinge on to the cabinet at the top side of the cabinet, exactly the place where it was screwed before. But since the glass is half centimeter smaller, it does not fit!

Unscrews, screws, unscrews, screw Voila! The job is finally done. But there is a small crack on the new glass panel too! Phew!

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