It started when I was young, actually. I was about eight or ten, and my dad was working at a gas station. Occasionally I might be dropped off there while my mom did some shopping. I didn't mind. I liked the smell of the place.
I suddenly had this idea. Knew I wanted to drive a car someday, and it was a normal thing to do. But when Dad said Ronnie the Mechanic was in back changing a tire, I suddenly realized I had no idea how to do that. It seemed like such an everyday thing, and I came to the conclusion that if I ever needed to change a tire and I didn't know how I would seem like a total idiot. I would actually be ashamed. So I asked and the mechanic let me watch as long as I stayed out of the way. About six years later, when I had a blow out, I knew what to do.
The same thing happened when I saw Mom doing the laundry one day. The washing machine looked simple enough with just two knobs and three settings on each knob. So just like before I asked how she knew what to do for what types of clothes.
It seems even pretty early on I realized something kind of important. Not everyone knows how to repair a helicopter engine. Not everyone knows how to calculate quark behavior in particle physics. Not everyone knows how to quantify NYSE market fluctuations. But there are some common every-day tasks that just about any person could be called on to do at least once in their lives, if not frequently. Cleaning the grease off of pots. Jump-starting a car. Resetting a home circuit breaker. Retrieving a ring that was dropped down the sink. Using a saw. A shovel. Lots of common things that I had to admit that if I didn't know how to do them I'd be downright embarrassed.
Now, since I've led a weird kind of life I learned a few things that the average person might not know. How to split fence rails. How to correct errors when illuminating calligraphy. How to sew a pirate shirt. What kind of cement to use when paving, and what kind when re-pointing. But that's not that abnormal. It's just part of being human that you pick up a trick or two that not everyone knows.
What really baffles me are the people that DON'T know how to do the common stuff. How do people cope knowing that they have no idea how to fix a button that comes off their clothes. Or the people that have no clue as to how to put out a fire. Or the ones that can't even balance a checkbook.
Yeah. I know why it happens. And it's a sick sad state of humanity when that is what we have come to. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go make some chili and cornbread...which as far as I'm concerned is a necessity.