Hammering with a Crescent Wrench

My grandma always used to tell me the story about when I was two years old…

It seems I would go get the badminton racquet and the birdie and bring it to her. Then she would throw the birdie at the racquet that I was holding and I would hold really still and let it hit. Sometimes I would try to swing the racquet, and would miss the birdie. I would look at her very sincerely and say “You’re doing it wrong Grandma”. She told me that story every time I saw her like I had never heard it before…

Fast forward ten years and now I’m driving my dad crazy. I love my bike and it’s pretty clear to me if I wait around for him to fix it, well it’s probably not going to happen. So I had gotten pretty good at fixing my bike, building new bikes out of bike parts scrounged from around the neighborhood, I just kind of had a knack for it.  It was fun to think of something in my head and make it real using tools and parts etc.

My theory at that time was crescent wrenches are awesome because you can do just about anything with them. In fact, when it was time to work on one of my bikes–often my only two tools would be two crescent wrenches!


The part that drove my dad crazy (beside the fact he could never find his tools) was the fact that I would use a crescent wrench as a hammer all of the time! Why get up and go find a hammer when I had a perfectly good pounding device in my hand already? He was not a handy man, but he had that “the right tool for the right job” mentality. To me, if pounding on it with a wrench got the job done – well that was good enough for me. The job was done, and I saved a few steps.

Besides, Dad would get decades more use out of his hammer that way!


I talked to Mike on a dock in Tacoma – I had stopped and parked the car after driving past the Glass Museum.  I had heard good things about the museum, so I parked and startede to walk back. On the way I started talking to Mike and never did make it to the museum.  I thought it worked out great just the way it happened.

He was sitting in just the right spot for me to take this photo, so I asked him if he minded. He was cool and gave his consent.

While I was setting up the shot I casually asked him “What kind of fish do you catch here?”.

“I don’t know” he said, “I’ve never caught one.”

And with that he started reeling in his line, and up and out of the water came a chartreuse spinner that had been sitting on the bottom of the inlet. He looked at me to make sure I had seen what he was fishing with, reached back and cast it back out and let it sink to the bottom. Then he turned and smiled at me and went back to just sitting there holding his pole. His spinner just sitting there on the bottom.


While I took a few photos I had to ask him why he fishes with no bait. After all, he was clearly not even using the spinner in a way that would attract fish.  He replied “my doctor told me to fish, but I don’t like to catch them”.

He suffers from anxiety attacks… stress related he told me. He went to the doctor and was told that he needed to find ways to relax. At the time I still couldn’t get over the fact that he’s using these tools in all the wrong ways – so I asked him if it’s working. He answered that he had been “fishing” for about an hour at that point, and he had been sitting there the whole time. Before he went to the doctor he couldn’t sit still for longer than 10 minutes.

“So it’s working… I guess” he said offhandedly.


He put his pole down and stood up to get a 7up out of his cooler. We stood there and talked for a while. He works in IT for an IT security firm – he mentioned he had to be to work at 4:00. He lives just down the dock in a condo there, and the company he works for is using some commercial space on that same dock.  He loves Tacoma and living and working on the water like that. In fact, his whole life was going great until the anxiety attacks started. Now he comes down to fish several times a week – “it’s a nice way to sit and think about things” he said, “and it seems to be working.”

Using the tools of fishing to relax, without any of the worry of actually catching a fish – it’s almost like Mike’s pounding the stress out with a crescent wrench.

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3 Responses to Hammering with a Crescent Wrench

  1. George Bingham says:

    Nice story. I really like your comparison to the tools. I can relate to that.


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