Nobody Asked Me But: How-to YouTube videos don’t cut it for everyone

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I always wanted to be the guy who could fix anything. In my daydreams, I pictured a garage half filled with broken-down appliances dropped off by neighbours and friends who had consummate faith in my ability and stubborn perseverance. I would bring their machines back to life. They all knew I had the “knack.”

The best part of these daydreams was the fact that I didn’t charge any fees for my work. I fixed things in my spare time and received my payment in smiles from everyone who went back home with a working appliance. Just the knowledge that I had succeeded in resurrecting another broken toaster or malfunctioning weed whacker was reward enough.

As I said, this is who I am in my daydreams. In real life, on the other hand, I am better at breaking things than I am at resembling a Mr. Fix-it. When put in my hands, screws get stripped, bolts bend, and washers and nuts disappear faster than Harry Houdini.

I suppose I should have expected life to turn out this way for me. As a child, I used to take great pleasure in dismantling any wristwatch, clock or radio that stopped working in our house. I loved seeing how many parts I could pull out of the thingamajig and I especially relished in the sight of all those little parts lying neatly spread out on an open sheet of newspaper on the floor.

What I found really exciting was my belief that when I reassembled all the pieces back together again, the clock would start to tick again and the radio would once more blare out ‘50s pop music. Alas, that never happened. And even though I had carefully made mental notes as to how the parts went back together again, not only were the appliances still broken, but there were always a few small dials, springs and screws still sitting patiently on the newspaper sheet after the contraption had been put together again.

Fast forward to just a short while ago and everything, it seems, has changed for the better. The Age of YouTube is upon us. With the advent of YouTube, not only are we able to enjoy practically every musical concert ever performed, every lecture ever given, and every stupid cat video ever recorded, but we now have at our fingertips the information needed to fix just about anything that has ever been broken.

Correct. YouTube instructional videos have made it possible for all men to become Mr. Fix-it and all women to transform themselves into Ms. Do-It-Yourself. All we have to do is browse the internet for the video that tackles the problem, follow the easy repair instructions, and … Bob’s your uncle … problem solved.

Or so I thought. By watching these helpful home repair videos, I could become the repairman I had envisioned myself in the daydreams of my youth. All I had to do was search YouTube for the video clip that dealt with my problematic repair job, select the solution that seemed the most promising, watch it carefully, follow the steps and success was sure to land on my doorstep.

As luck would have it, my loftiest daydreams have turned into my most abysmal nightmares. My hopes of being able to fix anything have been flushed down the toilet and my personal mantra of “I can do that” is now rusting away in the junkyard of insipid aphorisms.

Why all the doom and gloom? Why am I feeling like a first class, bona fide loser? The answer lies in my possibly warranted realization that something is sure to go wrong. Maybe I won’t have the proper tools for dismantling the cover on the lawn mower. Perhaps there are too many sheets of paper jammed between the rollers of my printer to allow me to jerk open the lid. Even if I was able to pull out all the crumpled sheets of blank paper, why is it impossible for me to replace the empty cartridges so they will sit snugly in their holders? The old ones came out easily, so why won’t the new ones slide into their positions just as smoothly?

It always looks so easy on YouTube. The bolts never get cross-threaded. The vacuum cleaner dust bags don’t ever become stuck so that they tear when I pull hard and I end up depositing a thick layer of dust back onto the carpet I just vacuumed.

These YouTube instructional videos make me feel the same way as I do when following the printed directions after purchasing a wooden bedframe or shelving unit at IKEA. The instructions come in 23 different languages, but the most confusing are the ones in English. The diagrams for assembly make it look as if I’m seeing the front, side and top views of the piece of furniture at the same time. And always, and I mean always, there are too many of one kind of fastener but not enough of another to hold the unit together.

The worst part about watching these videos is having to tolerate the person demonstrating the repair procedure. Usually, it’s an “ordinary Joe” who is not being condescending or trying make me feel inferior. It’s just that nothing ever goes wrong with the repair job in the video. Sometimes the machine is already partially disassembled right at the beginning and I realize that I will never get to the same point as where the video starts because I can’t even pry the cowling off my leaf blower.

Nobody asked me, but I’m pretty sure that YouTube is deliberately trying to make me feel like a dweeb when it comes to doing home repairs. I don’t think I’m being paranoid, but I’m certain that the videos are skipping essential steps which render the repair job impossible. Or maybe they are using an appliance model which is slightly different than the one I have, which is why I can’t back off the red throttle screw a quarter turn because I don’t have a red throttle screw.

I guess it just wasn’t meant to be. It seems to me that it’s going to take more than a quarter turn to fix this here repairman. Until something drastic happens to improve my repairing abilities, I’ll have to switch over to the YouBoob website.

Now where did I put that whatchamacallit that screws into that doohickey? 

1 Comment
  1. Max says

    Have you tried BILT? It is an app that does 3D animated step by step assembly instructions. If your product is on it, it is amazingly easy.

    Good luck – just don’t try to do surgery on yourself.

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