He is considered man’s best friend.

He is a faithful companion who is by your side during difficult times.  No matter how poorly you treat him, he remains unconditional.  He enjoys riding on the back of the truck.  He enjoys being outdoors.  He often lies next to the car in the sunshine; never in the rain.  Unlike some of my buddies who keep theirs out in the garage, mine stays in the utility room where it is nice and warm.

But tragedy struck last Saturday morning.  I had to say good-bye to my good friend.  Yes, the hinge on my old toolbox broke last Saturday morning and now I have to get a new one.    

That old tool box and I have been through a lot together.  We’ve seen good times like that Christmas Eve we put my daughters’ doll house together and the New Year’s Eve when I couldn’t open that champagne bottle and he provided me the pliers.  But he was also with me during bad times such as the night the furnace made that strange noise and that morning the car wouldn’t start and the evening when the kitchen faucet started leaking.     

Yes, we’ve been through thick and thin.  And now we come to the end of the line.  It was a good toolbox.  Classic red.  Made by Klein.  They know how to make tool boxes.  The battered nameplate says they’ve been making toolboxes “Since 1857”.  Like I said, they know toolboxes.

I can still remember the day we met.  It was at a yard sale.  I saw nothing I really needed, but then the morning clouds parted and a beam of heavenly light shown down on my bright red Klein.  From the dents and scratches, it was obviously a veteran of home improvements ranging from minor leaks to major backups.

And now, he sat on a card table with a price tag of $3.00.  How degrading.  It was worth so much more, but I’m a sucker for a good deal.  I paid $2.50 and walked from the sale with not only a bargain, but a faithful companion.

So, there we were last Saturday.  Old Klein sat on my workbench before me with a broken hinge.  Sadly, I had to transfer his contents to a 5-gallon bucket to be later placed in a new tool box I would soon purchase.  I guess it was a good opportunity to clean out years of accumulated stuff.

I first tackled the metal tray that fits on the top.  There were two hammers, three Philip’s head screw drivers, four flat head screw drivers, three sets of needle-nosed pliers, two regular pliers, vice grip pliers, and one hooked-nosed pliers.  Why so many pliers?  Perhaps I was a medieval dentist in a previous life.   

Deeper within Old Klein, I discovered wrenches of all sizes.  Lug wrenches, monkey wrenches, pipe wrenches, and wrenches used to repair other wrenches.  There were scrapers, files, drill bits, tin punches, glass cutters, hex keys, a three-pronged electrical adapter, razor blades, and black electric tape.  There were tape measures:  one silver, one white, one black, one fluorescent orange so I can’t lose it in tall grass.  Honestly, I can’t seem to find any of them when I need one.

There were gadgets I received in the mail after I subscribed to Handyman Magazine.  Others were stocking stuffers.  A couple were oddities I picked up at a flea market which I’ve never used and never plan on using, but can’t seem to toss out because you never know when you might need one of those gadgets whose purpose is unknown. 

There were carpenters’ pencils and torn pieces of paper with scribbled measurements I probably needed when I was cutting a board, but failed to find which resulted in my cutting the board an inch too short.  There was a hacksaw, a couple wooden paint stirs, a crowbar, another Philip’s head screwdriver, an upholstering hammer, a square, duct tape, a ball of twine, some Popsicle sticks, a paint brush, another wrench, and a plumb bob.

At the very bottom of the toolbox, I found real treasures.  There was a petrified animal cracker, several Tic Tacs, some Mary Jane wrappers, worthless bits of string, a clothespin, a button from a long gone work shirt, a paper clip, a marble or two I found in the yard, and plenty of stripped screws, bent and rusted nails, staples I’d pulled from a fence post, and all that extra hardware they give you in packages of mini blinds, curtain rods, swing sets, towel bars, toilet seats, and kitchen appliances.

With my task complete, I felt as empty inside as my red Klein tool box.  I paused for a moment of silence.  And suddenly something caught my eye.  In the dust and grime at the bottom of the toolbox, I spotted a small rectangular piece of metal.  Upon closer observation, it was a hinge.  Perhaps it was left over from assembling a doll house or kitchen cabinet, but it matched the broken hinge from Old Klein.  Using one of my two dozen screw drivers, I reassembled the lid on my faithful friend.  Tragedy diverted.    

I began returning only the most useful items from the 5-gallon bucket to the toolbox.  I began with the worthless bits of paper and continued with the button from the long-gone work shirt, the paper clip, some Mary Jane wrappers, the marbles, the worthless bits of string . . .

He is considered man’s best friend.  He is a faithful companion who is by your side during both happy and difficult times.

Have you hugged your toolbox today? 

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