◀ All Blog Posts

Don't Just Do Something — Stand There

By Carissa Tobin

FRI SEP 17, 2021

Just do it, Nike said.

But when it comes to home projects, or at least my role in them, it seems like I need to amend that tagline a bit.

A couple weeks ago, Axel and I had a child-free afternoon while Little L spent some time with her grandparents. "What should we do?" I asked Axel. On the list were relaxing, cleaning up, talking about the fall family routines, and, at the last minute, Axel added, "I've been wanting to change the downspout and I need you to help me."

"What?" I asked. I could feel my demeanor changing. Like a rainstorm overhead, my face clouded over.

Just like the sky. Was now the best time to be changing a downspout?

"We should do it now," Axel said, eyeing the clouds warily. "It's going to rain this afternoon and the downspout has been leaking onto the house. It'll only take twenty minutes."

Dragging my feet and sighing, I followed him out to the garage. We tried to keep our project in the vicinity of the back driveway away from the input of our friendly and advice-laden neighbor. First I held some paint-chipped metal while Axel sawed. Then I watched as he attached a shiny metal piece to it. Like, bright silver. Much classier than the rest of the downspout situation.

Now, I hate how stereotypical this is. The husband doing the home improvement project; the woman abhorring it. But I have to portray this accurately, so there we have it. At least I wasn't inside baking a pie. I don't even know how to do that, by the way. If I did, I'd be having peach pie for dinner tonight.

Half an hour later, we finally went to the front of the house where the downspout needed to be reattached.

"Hold this here," Axel said.

I did.

Then there was some issue, and he decided to drill a new hole. The problem didn't phase him. "That's how these things go. Something else always comes up. You just have to hope you have a fix." This did not bode well for getting back inside and sitting down. I shifted my weight, blew some hair out of my face, and held on.

"Keep holding," he said, as he ran off to get the drill.

I held this baby for quite awhile and Axel put on that shiny silver thing.
I held this baby for quite awhile and Axel put on that shiny silver thing.

"This is BORING," I told him upon his return. Yes, I know, it's on me that I don't know how to do any of this stuff myself. In the condo, though, that was never an issue. "Isn't there anyone else that you could get to help you with this? I'm not even doing anything!"

"You are doing something!" Axel said. "This entire job would not be possible without you."

"I've literally been just standing here the entire time." There was even a period in the garage where I had pulled up a chair, popped out a can of lime-flavored La Croix, and just sat there.

"Yeah, but still, you're necessary. It's like when you drive down the road and they're surveying something and there's always one person just standing there holding a "slow" sign. They look so bored. The look on their face is just like the look on yours right now. But without them, the surveyors couldn't do the job. That guy is important. You're that guy."

"You're that gal," he added, before I could even open my mouth.

Thunder rumbled in the distance. A few drops of rain fell down.

"Oh no!" he muttered. We'd been in a drought all summer, and now here was the rain, and the downspout wasn't on.

But the rain held off. And I held the downspout.

And best of all, after about an hour and a half of work on this "twenty-minute" project, Axel pronounced the job done.

No water dripping onto the house.
No water dripping onto the house.

Later that afternoon, it rained. It poured! Axel led me out into the rain to look at the downspout. "See? It's not leaking onto the house! We did it! You've got to admire your handiwork." He smiled wide as rain pelted him in the face.

I have to admit, it was a little bit satisfying.

This is where the water is supposed to rush out.
This is where the water is supposed to rush out.

So in case you, like me, are ever dragged into a situation where you're just standing there, keeping someone company or holding something for them, and you think, Do I matter? Couldn't I be watching Gilmore Girls instead? The answer is yes, you do matter, or at least that's what they'll tell you to make you feel better.

And about all the things you could be doing instead, best to try not to think about those for the next two hours... I mean, twenty minutes.