A big thank you to all the ‘whogs’ out there

By Jim DeBrosse

I recently remodeled an old-fashioned basement shower my son and I share after it had reached the point where the rotting wood ceiling was about to cave in. It took me weeks to accomplish, and more wasted fiberglass paneling than I care to admit, but I'm proud to say the finished job would pass muster even with Oakwood's notoriously fastidious inspectors.

Now that I've patted myself on the back, I must pass a good deal of the credit to the unsung heroes of home remodeling and repair -- the wise, helpful old guys at the neighborhood hardware store. Call them "whogs," for short.

Men and women who do household repairs know exactly who I'm talking about. Whogs are the retired, elderly men who have found second careers assisting customers like myself who walk clueless into their stores every day.

In a digital, disposable culture that increasingly relegates the aged to the dust heap of irrelevancy (or hires them as store greeters), it's good to know there's at least one industry that values their skills and puts them to good use.

Bring whogs an old screw, a broken latch or hinge, hopelessly corroded toilet parts or pieces of ancient hardware you don't even know the name of and they know exactly what you need and where among the many aisles of shelves, drawers, boxes and brackets to find it.

The same goes for any tool you might need, even if you can't begin to describe it.

"Hi there. I need one of those whatchacallits -- You know, those metal thingees you use so you know you're cutting something at... well, you know, so it lines up right with a corner."

"A carpenter's square. Right this way, sir."

Whogs may have to limp or hobble to get you to the right place, but you can be sure it will be a trip with no detours.

Whogs can tell you how to get started on just about any home project, because in their six, seven or often eight decades of life experience, they've done them all and learned the hard way.

Often, their sage advice begins this way: "Well, you could do (Choice A). But I'll tell ya, it would be a lot easier and cheaper to do (Choice B)."

I can't tell you how much money and stress those Choice Bs have saved me over the years.

Best of all, whogs perform their service with a friendly smile and a gentle spirit that never hints at the customer's astounding ignorance. They're the fathers most of us wished we'd had.

So, for the whogs of the world, this column's for you! Now go get yourself a cold beer.

  • DATE: February 6, 2010

  • PUBLICATION: Dayton Daily News (OH)

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