The Best of Andy Rooney

(This classic Andy Rooney column was originally published Dec. 10, 1988.)

Wives do a thousand little things for their husbands that they don't get credit for.

Right here, I want to give credit where credit is due. A few weeks ago, while I was away, Margie did something for me I'll never forget. She cleaned up my shop in the basement. She got our friend Joe to come in and help, and between them, they tidied up everything. It must have taken several days, because it would have been impossible to put that many things in places where I can't find them in less than several days.

I confess that the shop would have looked as though it was a mess to anyone but me. To me, everything was in its place. I had little scraps of wood everywhere. If I use six feet of a 7-foot piece of maple, I don't throw away the leftover foot. I save it. I don't always put my scraps of wood away neatly in a pile of other scraps, but I know where they were. Now my scraps of wood are in neat piles. I can't find them, but they're neatly piled.

I would be the first to admit that I'm not neat. (Come to think of it, I was not the first to admit it. I was the second. Other people said it several hundred times before I ever did.)

My wood treasures, pieces of lumber, were leaning against the basement walls or were stashed in between the beams under the dining room floor upstairs. Because there were years of accumulated sawdust everywhere, Margie and Joe moved everything. Margie said she was afraid of fire, but if the house had burned down, it wouldn't have disrupted my shop any more than the cleaning job did.

There were dozens of different sizes of nuts, bolts, nails and screws on my workbench. When I wanted one, I pawed through the pile until I found the size I wanted. No longer. Now, only the three of them -- Margie, Joe and God -- know where anything is. Margie's out shopping, I don't know where Joe is and God has more important things to do than tell me where they put my dovetail jig.

All those nuts and bolts and screws are in dozens of little jars with tops on them now. When I want one, I dump them out of the jar onto my workbench and paw through them just like before.

Tools like chisels and screwdrivers were lying helter-skelter on my workbench. No longer. Margie put each and every item somewhere. That's the key word. Everything is "somewhere."

I go to the bottom of the cellar steps and yell up, "Hey, Margie! Where did you put the chuck key to my drill?"

"I put it right there somewhere," she yells back in obvious irritation over my lack of appreciation for the work she did.

She hung hammers, saws and extension cords. She put two try squares down behind some cans on a shelf. I found my level in a box over by the shelves with the paint. Margie and Joe piled my lathe chisels under my workbench and put my drill bits -- well, actually, I don't know where they put my drill bits, because I haven't found them yet.

Listen, it's just another reason to thank Margie. Most of those bits were dull anyway, so I went out and bought a set of new ones.

How can I ever express my appreciation for the job Margie did? I've been considering some ways. Margie does all our bookkeeping in what used to be the twins' room. Her papers are spread out all over several tables and desks and piled on the little couch and that pulls out and turns into a bed at Christmas when everyone's home. I think that, one of these days, I'll repay Margie's kindness. I'll pick up her workroom the way she picked up mine. I'll pile all her papers, government forms, tax receipts and bank records and put them in boxes. I'll tidy up. I'll try and make that room as spick-and-span and free of anything out of place as Margie made my shop.

There must be a rule of life here somewhere. I think the rule may be, "It may be a mess, but it is MY mess."

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