Dangling carelessly 12 inches above our dining room floor, the still-connected electrical outlet seemed to revel in my frustration.
As a single bead of sweat dripped from my brow onto the newly installed vinyl floor, the outlet’s two three-pronged “faces” seemed to mock me, as if they were a couple of anguished emojis.
“Oh my God, we can’t believe you are struggling so much with this,” they seemed to be saying.
And they would be right.
All I was trying to do was replace the plastic outlet cover.
How hard can it be?
I had just replaced four others, including a dimmer switch, but as seems to be the rule of thumb in any project, it’s always the last one that gives you the most grief.
My inner frustration with the problem outlet took a turn for the worse when my screwdriver missed its mark, leaving a small indentation on the freshly painted wall.
It was at this point that I did what any self-respecting dad who is all thumbs around the house.
I blamed someone else.
“You see kids, this is what happens when you don’t do something right the first time,” I told my two bemused teens. “If the builder had just installed this properly, this wouldn’t be an issue.”
My wife arrived home and my rant continued, this time with a few colourful adjectives thrown in for good measure.
“Why can’t anything be built properly these days,” I vented. “You spend all this money on a townhouse and they can’t even install a (blank) wall outlet properly.”
With a simple, “I’m sure you’ll figure it out” verbal pat on the head, my wife went upstairs.
It was then that I realized what the problem was. I was simply doing it wrong. I was using the wrong holes for the screws.
Thirty seconds later, the outlet cover was replaced and I offered a silent apology to the builders who had installed the outlet properly way back in 2005.
As I meekly put my tools away, I was reminded of an angry reader, who only last week made a similar faux pas.
We had just published a special section congratulating Surrey’s grads and she was furious that we omitted her granddaughter.
“What a horrendous mistake to make. I cried when I saw that,” she wrote in a scathing email. “In the midst of a pandemic and all the ugly that is happening right now to not print her name is very cruel.
“This is a very painful experience for her, I’m sure, as it is for me as her grandmother. It is a terrible oversight on your part.”
Concerned about the omission, we looked into it and contacted the school district, who submitted the list for publication.
It turns out the grad’s name was published with her class after all – her grandmother just missed it.
“My apologies to you for my mistake,” she wrote in another email to us. “I read through the list twice and still missed it. I’m the one who needs better glasses.”
It seems we both learned a similar lesson – before lashing out and blaming others, take a deep breath and make sure the problem doesn’t lie with you.
But admitting that to your wife – well, that’s a different story.
“How did it go with the outlet?” my wife asked as she came down the stairs.
“All good,” I said, proudly pointing at my hard-earned victory.
“I figured it out.”
Some life lessons are best kept to yourself, right?
Beau Simpson is editor of the Now-Leader. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org