DIY: A macho thing?

I had an interesting discussion with a friend today.
My wife and I just bought a house that came with an inground pool. I’ve never owned a pool before, so this will be a new adventure.

The discussion with my friend arose over whether I would be hiring someone to “open” the pool for the season – basically get everything running and ready for that first dip.

I, of course, have no plans to hire anyone (and I’m sure my friend knew this would be my answer). I’ve been studying the wealth of information that is available on the Internet. There’s videos galore on YouTube and plenty of printed material. It isn’t rocket science.

This led my friend (a woman, by the way) to observe that men refuse to hire people because it gives them that “macho” feeling. I think she may have said something else about me being cheap as well (she always says that).

Well, she’s right about me being cheap and certainly I chafe at the idea of hiring anyone to do a job that I can do just as well… or if not as well, at least adequately enough for my taste. But it’s more than just the money and it’s not really a “macho” thing.

I derive a huge amount of satisfaction from doing as much as I can by myself. This includes all manner of work, from bookkeeping, house cleaning, gardening to home repair/renovation. I’m not trained in any of these areas, but over the years I’ve taught myself the skills necessary to do the job.

For the most part, I enjoy the experience. I like it when my checkbook balances, or I build a spreadsheet that tracks expenses for a project. I like the look of a room after it’s been cleaned and there’s nothing that beats the sense of satisfaction that I get from standing back and admiring a well-done (or at least adequately done) carpentry job.

I don’t think of this as a “macho” thing. Yes, a successful project leaves me feeling competent, but I don’t think that is a uniquely male experience. I know my wife enjoys a similar sense of satisfaction from her projects, which, over the years has included removing two chimneys from a house we renovated.

I have, over the years, acknowledged there are areas where I need some help. I no longer prepare our taxes because we have two companies and I just don’t have the specific knowledge (or time) to do the job properly. While I maintained my own car as a teenager, today’s sophisticated computer systems and limited time prompt me to find a good mechanic. My efforts at any plumbing more complicated than changing out a faucet generally result in disaster, so I hand that over to a pro, as I do with any task that requires work much higher than 12 feet, since I don’t like heights.

I’ve been extremely lucky to have a wife who’s been supportive of my efforts, which in the beginning could most generously have been described as amateurish and even today sometimes fall short of what a seasoned pro could produce.

And when I look out at the swimming pool, still covered with a tarp and last fall’s leaves, I feel a great sense of excitement. This will be fun – why would I pay someone to have fun for me?

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