Screwed by a Cordless Drill

I’ll never forget how kind and generous my grandfather was after my parents split up. The way I saw it, he didn’t judge and he didn’t take sides. I just remember him offering repeatedly to me and my Mom, “Let me know if you need help setting up the new place and if you need me to bring my drill.”

When I moved out on my own, he made the same offer, including the part about the drill. In some way, even though he couldn’t do anything about big changes going on in one’s life, I think that the offer of bringing his drill was his way of showing support, a way of helping through life’s big transitions.

His drill was a classic, and probably considered vintage by today’s standards. If I remember correctly, it was hefty. It seemed like it needed a bodybuilder to pilot this heavy machine with the stiff cord, needing an extension for home improvements taking place atop a ladder. But it did the job.

When I was given my first Black and Decker drill as a gift, it was a bittersweet moment. I felt a sense of independence in being able to take care of my own minor repair work, but I felt bad at the possibility of chipping away at my grandfather’s sense of purpose. Just the same, it was a giant leap in my own journey of “adulting”, and in developing my capacity to perform minor home repairs, without having to call a professional.

I did get some pretty good mileage with that first cordless drill, and was even able to pay it forward in helping to some of my neighbours in my apartment building with the occasional light duty drilling job. I am certain that my grandfather would have been proud.

But what was obvious was that the drill was only seeing the light of day twice, maybe three times per year, especially over the decade when I lived in rental apartments. During that time I was mindful in not overdoing it with the renos that I would have to undo before moving out. Even though that first drill was excellent, over time, I could see that the built-in battery was slowly losing its ability to keep a charge.

As a result, spur-of-the-moment repairs were out of the question. If I was thinking of performing a home repair, I needed to plug it in half a day before, since there was no way it would still have juice left from the last repair. I could still navigate home repairs, it’s just that I had to do make appointments with myself to do them, and plug in the drill ahead of time.

As time went on, it was sad to say goodbye to this drill as it just stopped recharging altogether, but it was a fond farewell given all the repairs it was able to accomplish with me.

When I moved into my first house, I found a deal at a factory outlet store, where I could buy a number of cordless tools, all using the same style of battery, and just pop the battery into the tool where it was needed. This new, sustainable approach pleased me immensely. I took the plunge and bought a few tools, including a more powerful drill to replace “Old Faithful.”

By that point in life, I had already been burned by the rapid evolution of technology and realizing the pace at which certain products go obsolete. I decided to get an extra battery (or was it two? I forget) knowing that at some point in time, they won’t make these anymore. This approach would certainly keep these tools alive and in service for decades.

But the universe had other plans. I was correct in purchasing additional batteries as there was indeed a time when this line of batteries was phased out. What I didn’t count on was the charger dying, and not being able to find a replacement anywhere online, despite my most detailed searches on the World Wide Web.

With a dead charger, the batteries were useless, as were the tools to which they belonged.

I was screwed.

With memories of my grandfather and his corded drill that seemingly lasted forever, I started looking for a corded drill hoping for the same return on investment and longevity. Given the seemingly disposable fate of products with cordless batteries, to me this seemed like the most reasonable solution, albeit an old-school approach.

When the next Christmas rolled around, I was pretty busy and lacking in ideas for my wish list. I didn’t need much. I thought this might be a good time to ask Santa if there was a corded drill in the workshop that could be sent my way.

When Christmas rolled around, Santa came through… almost. A shiny new cordless drill was under the tree for me, along with two batteries.

Santa explained that they read my wish list and completely understood my predicament. However, this model came with a lifetime guarantee. Reassurance was provided that because this was the store’s home brand, they will stand behind their products indefinitely.

I wasn’t about to look a gift drill in the mouth with this kind of reassurance, even though companies have been known to change their mind about store policies. I enthusiastically thanked Santa as I needed a drill in the worst possible way, with a list of home repairs accumulating in the background.

I did reason with myself, that in this lifetime, I have only owned two drills. For the balance of this lifetime, I might only own two more, all things being equal. It’s not like my drill usage was contributing heavily to the problem of rapidly filling landfill sites. But I realize though that every gesture, however small, helps.

With the last drill (and batteries and charger), I was already saddened by the seeming social acceptability of throwing away perfectly good products when one part fails, as long as it keeps people buying new ones and keeps shareholders happy. That is nonsense to me.

But in keeping an open mind, if this company comes through and this drill can last me until my hands are too arthritic to use it, then I will consider this experience a success.

If not, then the next drill will be a corded one… if I can find one.

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