The Trouble with Ratchets

Today’s post comes from Chris, Reneeinnd’s husband.

Due to an anomaly at birth, I am partially ambidextrous.  I learn to do simple tasks with my left hand and complex tasks with my right.  I allow other people to demonstrate their mechanical prowess while I stand aside to lend assistance.  Attempts to tackle jobs with moving parts commonly end in frustration, absurdity, or disaster.

In July, Renee and  I traveled to see our son and his wife in Brookings, South Dakota so Renee could do a therapy presentation and we could help the kids move into a new apartment.  The new place was quite a step up: it had three bedrooms on two levels, with two and a half bathrooms!  Son and his wife had bought new furniture and had it delivered to the new apartment.  They had to leave several pieces of furniture, including a huge, dilapidated sectional sofa, in the old apartment so it could be removed and hauled to the landfill with my pickup.

We arrived on Friday evening, delighted to see the new apartment. Renee and Son would be at the presentation the next day.  After a pleasant meal, the four of us went to the Lowe’s to get what would be needed for the big move– a big tarp and a set of ratchets with straps.

Son and I went over to the old place and proceeded to load the bulky pieces of the sofa into my pickup and cover them with the tarp.  The next step was to secure the load with the straps and ratchets.

Son and I usually work well together, but he has dexterity problems of his own.  Secretly, I didn’t have a clue–I’d let him take the lead.  Neither of us knew how to spool the straps through the ratchet.  Son used the expedient of the young–he looked up the procedure on YouTube.  By this time, it was getting dark and he  had to use his phone as a flashlight.  He figured out what to do, and we threw the hooked end of the strap over the top of the load.  At that point we inadvertently violated the cardinal rule of ratcheting–always keep the strap straight!  If you don’t, the strap will  twist and get stuck in the spool while you’re tightening it with the ratchet.

Of course the strap got tangled, and the strength of two big men was not enough to unwind it.  Fortuitously, Son’s upstairs neighbor, a veteran  of multiple collegiate moves, arrived.  He was able to pull out the strap so it could be spooled back in to the ratchet.  We tried again, secured the load, and drove the truck to the new apartment, tired but satisfied with a job well done.

On Saturday, Daughter in Law  and I got to do the fun part–driving the pickup to the landfill so we could dispose of the sofa.  We gleefully flung the cruddy pieces onto a smelly pile of rubbish.  We were very careful to wind the straps back into ratchets without twisting them.  I had not repeated the same mistake and was proud of my newfound competence.  I could now use a ratchet on my own–without help!

We showed Son the neatly spooled ratchets when he got home, only to find that the straps were horribly stuck! You’re not supposed to rewind the strap through the back of the ratchet!  Son pulled with all  his might and was able to get one of the spools unstuck.  He had to resort to cutting the other one.  A mysterious third strap was involved.  Although  Son remained calm and patient, he was  clearly disgusted by the situation.  He advised me to ask one of “my mechanically inclined” friends for assistance in the future.

The straps and ratchets are stored in a compartment of my truck.  I am too embarrassed to show my incompetence by asking a casual friend or neighbor for help.  I vowed never to use an  unspooled ratchet and strap again– if I can avoid it.

Have you ever had a guilty secret?  What did you do to conceal your shame?


56 thoughts on “The Trouble with Ratchets”

  1. I might have to keep my guilty secrets to myself. Of course I’ll have to think one up first.

    OT. Don’t forget book club tomorrow to at The Falls. It’s our anniversary date.


    1. OT again. YA has prompted me to look at the weather forecast for tomorrow. 80% chance of rain. So maybe we should have a back-up? We can certainly meet at my house if the weather is bad.

      How about a “if it’s raining at noon” call?


  2. Given your description of your inabilities, I’m not sure “ambidextrous” is the right term. Quasidextrous maybe?

    The areas where I am conscious of my inability are not sources of shame; they are just areas in which I know enough not to compete.

    Probably my most overarching inability has to do with speed. I am not, in most endeavors, including conversation, the quickest. I am slow and reflective and deliberate. I work best at my own pace and I hate being rushed. That sometimes is a problem when I am working with other, faster, usually younger, less exacting persons.

    I am also not an effective multi-tasker. I am best off focusing on one thing at a time and seeing it through to completion. In school, and since, I have never been good at taking notes. In a lecture, I could listen or I could write but I could seldom do both at the same time.

    A specific inability, though not a shame, I remember was when “magic pictures” were popular. Those were the ones where you were supposed to stare with your eyes slightly unfocused until another image revealed itself. I could never get them to work. Likely that’s because my eyes focus at sharply different distances. I have one nearsighted eye and one farsighted one and they compensate for each other but seldom in concert.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That to me, Bill, is a very interesting response. I, too, have never been good at multitasking. As for note taking during a lecture, forget it; I either listen, understand, and retain what’s being said, or I’m furiously scribbling and missing the next few sentences. I’m also nearsighted on one eye and farsighted on the other, wonder to what extent that has to do with anything?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Some folks who have studied the issue will say nobody is good at multitasking. Some people just think they are. Like many people, I can do two things at once badly . . . but to do anything well, I have to give it my full attention.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I don’t think of one eye as being dominant, tim. They each do a different job. Off hand I don’t remember which eye is near sighted or which one is far sighted. If I took off my glasses I suppose I could figure it out.


        2. ill show you how to figure it out next time i see you. i would be interesting to know if creative or functional is the ruling entity


    2. Quasidextrous describes it perfectly! I am motorically very quick. Chris is not. I am proud to say that when I was at my psychology internship and had to take all the neuropsychology tests that I was learning to administer, I was the fastest person they had ever seen at the Purdue Pegboard Test!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. i have been told and i believe that right handers do everything right handed and that if you do anything left handed you are left handed. that cut and dry. righties cant do it and lefties dont recognize it


  3. Thanks, Chris, for this post. I sympathize with your ratchet troubles. Husband is an expert at those things, and they are a complete mystery to me. Don’t need two experts on the same thing in one family is what I say. In fact, it’s probably better not to.

    I think I may have exhausted my lifetime supply of guilt. Can’t think of a thing that I feel guilty about at the moment. Give me a few hours, and I’ll probably come up with something.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. the ratchert strap is a great example of a puzzle that is difficult to figure out and hard to recognize how to fix because of very non intuitive design once youve got it you figure out how to thread the strap before you begin cranking on it and how to unlatch the strap if it gets twisted or if you wratchet it so much tha the strap fills the available space around the hub. i cant think of another example of such a an easy to muff design with no appearant fix. tell chris he can do it going forward. it is a easy peasy deal once you get it and an excellent design functionally. strong and locked tightly. id be happy to send a video if needed

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Two years ago, I took a class called “Lighting I.” Although quite a bit of the class involved taking pictures in natural light, such as sunlight (and my favorite – twilight), some assignments required the use of various studio lights. When I was in the studio, my guilty secret was I didn’t know how to set up the lights, find anything I needed besides what came in the kit I received, or basically anything. So I had to ask lots of questions. LOTS of questions. I was very frustrated and kind of panicky and wanted to just leave, but then I would have failed the assignment. And, yes, class time had been devoted to showing how to do the assignment in the studio, but I am a slow learner and just watching someone else set things up isn’t enough to help me much when it comes time for me to do it on my own.

    Now I’m to the point where I would like to learn more about various photographic lights, but once again life has dictated that I will not be able to take classes this upcoming semester so I’m hoping there are some other ways to learn this stuff.

    My normal way of dealing with my guilty secrets is silence and avoidance.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve written before on this blog about a stint of shoplifting when I was in college – I still don’t really understand what was behind that, because I didn’t/don’t cheat in other ways. But if we really want to talk about shame, we have to go back to when I was maybe 5 years old. (I hope no one is too grossed out here.) I used to pick my nose and then eat the results. My mom had tried shaming me, and I remember she would give me that evil eye. I think I tried to only do it when no one was looking, but apparently forgot when I was walking down the street with my best friend Sandy. Sandy said something like “Yuck, don’t do that – it’s disgusting.” and I believe that was it – peer pressure worked where Mom’s rules didn’t. This is the first time I’ve ever told ANYONE this, so it must be kind of big, for me to remember it all this time.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I’m not sure it was a “guilty” secret, but I used to have topics I didn’t want to discuss with my doctor. I discovered I had a talent for distracting my doctor. With a bit of wit, unanticipated candor and charm, I could keep him chuckling and far from the stuff I wanted to avoid discussing.

    Admitting that might be a guilty secret after all. To be fair, I should add that I finally grew up and changed doctors. I left the one I could manipulate in favor of one who couldn’t be distracted.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. My guilty secret today is that in a quest to use fresh herbs in something easily transportable to book-club-in-the-park tomorrow, I just mixed up a batch of chocolate shortbread with fresh mint and I am eating the raw cookie dough. First I did it to make sure that it would taste okay, then I kept doing it because it tasted very okay. I’m going to let the dough sit for a bit to let the flavors meld a bit before baking. If there’s any dough left by the time baking time arrives, I will bring some to book club tomorrow. I plan to make rosemary-lemon balm shortbread (not chocolate), too, to make sure there’s enough.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “First I did it to make sure that it would taste okay, then I kept doing it because it tasted very okay.”

      When I read that I had to think of Winnie the Pooh and his rationale for tasting the jar of honey he was about to give Eeyore!

      Liked by 2 people

  8. other than my drunken driving conviction and losing my house through forclosure i cant think of a thing except for sneaking potato chips and my ability to procrastinate.
    my guilt has to get in line

    Liked by 4 people

  9. OT: this is one of those times I regret not living in the Twin Cities. There is an artist’s show I would love to see at the American Swedish Institute. They are celebrating the haunting work of Karin Broos.


  10. Anybody online right now? The forecast I’m looking says it’s supposed to start raining about 2 although it’s not raining now here. It is a little chilly out with a little bit of wind. What does anybody think? Should we move to inside? My house is okay to go.


    1. I’m okay either way. It’s not raining right now, although it looks like it rained a tiny bit a few minutes ago. Who wants to make the decision?


  11. I have contemplated purchasing those ratchet straps, but they looked kind of complicated and I wan’t sure I could figure them out. So I stick to ropes and various lengths of bungee cords to tie stuff to the top of my station wagon. This post sort of validates that decision. If I have to watch a video to learn the system, I’m probably better off not making the purchase.

    Guilty secrets? I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention.


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