Nothing says I love you like a tool box

Columnist Steve Lange fulfills his daughter's request, and then some.

Oddchester - Steve Lange column sig

As a parent, of course, I consider my children — my wondrous, precious offspring —to be the most blessed of glorious gifts.

Why, I treasure each and every moment I spend with them as if that moment were a tiny piece of heaven forever captured inside my soul.

I would never tell them that, of course.

Instead, I regularly find myself telling them things like “The left front tire of your car looks really low. I’ll just assume you’re not checking the tire pressure as often as I have repeatedly recommended.”

What I’m really saying is “I care about you so damn much that I even want your PSI to be correct in all four tires!"


But what they hear is “Well, if you’re not going to use the tire pressure gauge I bought you, you can at least pay close attention to possible bulging of the bottom sidewalls.”

Because that’s what I actually say.

Every so often, though, I get a chance to try to show my “soul heaven” feelings through a tangible item.

Like ...

The Toolbox
In June, our firstborn, 22-year-old daughter Hadley, will be graduating college and starting her first real job. She will be moving, with two other young women, into a house in an historic and artistic neighborhood in the Twin Cities.

A few weeks ago, she mentioned to me — casually, in passing — that she would like a toolbox for her new apartment. Just the basics for minor repairs, that sort of thing.

I immediately hung up the phone and announced the following to wife Lindy: “Well, Hadley has now formally asked me to take on a major role in the new apartment process. Not sure of all the details, but it looks like I’ll be some sort of Maintenance Supervisor with building repair and oversight responsibilities.”

I’m guessing Lindy only heard maybe half of it, since I was already running out the door on my way to Menard’s.


There, I spent 40 minutes comparing and contrasting toolbox options. I lifted steel toolboxes to test heft. I squished and unsquished canvas tool carrying cases.

I bought — or picked out extras from my tool collection — a hammer, pliers, a screwdriver with interchangeable bits.

Adjustable wrench, level, utility knife.

Allen wrenches, scissors, needle nose pliers.

I carefully organized them in the two-level tool box with removable top tray. Put the box away. Decided I was finished.

Then, the next day, I added a small drain snake, an outlet tester, safety glasses.

I hand-picked through my jars and drawers of random screws and nails and wall anchors and put the best ones in a small plastic case with multiple compartments.

Reorganized the tool box again.


And so it has gone for the past few weeks.

Packing tape, masking tape, duct tape. Sandpaper, Super Glue, small hand saw.

I eventually had to buy a bigger toolbox.

Finally, though, I got Hadley’s apartment toolbox just the way I wanted it.

As a final — final! — touch, I etched her initials — HJL — on the top.

Then, over the course of the last week, added a pair of work gloves, a magnetic stud finder, and some twine.

Steve Lange is the editor of Rochester Magazine. His column appears every Tuesday.

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