I think most men enjoy their garages; I know I do. Many see it as a "Fortress of Solitude" where a guy can store his tools and equipment, not to mention his automobiles. There is usually some form of work bench, a radio tuned to his favorite station, and a few signs or license plates posted on the wall to give it that "homey" feeling. Some people keep their garages immaculately clean which is often a reflection of how they keep their cars. Others even go so far as to add heating and air conditioning, not to mention a television set. There are even those who turn the garage into an office, a rec room, a fitness center, or possibly a kennel, but these are the exceptions as opposed to the rule. Most use it as was designed to be, a place to store your cars and any other paraphernalia your wife won't let you bring into the house.
I always liked the idea of a garage detached from the house, although I've never owned one. My grandfather in Buffalo, New York had such a garage and he kept it spotless. As a little kid I thought of it as a clubhouse or fort to hide out in. It wasn't massive, but it was fun to explore the flotsam and jetsam my grandfather stored there. His tool set was well organized but it all looked rather old, probably from the days of the Civil War I imagined. In all likelihood, my grandchildren will look upon my tools in the same manner. Tool sets are one of those rare things we seldom discard. For example, I still have tools which I used in my college days forty years ago. Only God knows how old my grandfather's tools were. Maybe they were handed down from generation to generation going back to the time of William Wallace in Scotland. Yea, they looked that old.
In addition to a basic workbench, there are essentially three things men need in a garage: power, lights, and shelving. Rarely does a garage have enough electrical outlets and, as such, men will add power strips and extension cords to accommodate their needs, usually to an excessive degree. Having suitable lighting is imperative in order to see what you're working on. While some people install additional overhead lighting, I prefer a good retractable light I can pull down from the ceiling and look under a car's hood with, the same sort of light you would find in a service station. I personally cannot imagine a garage without one. As to shelving, we need storage space for such things as automotive supplies, garden chemicals, paint, and camping equipment that we haven't used in at least a dozen years. The piece de resistance of garage storage is, of course, the tool box. It is every man's dream to own a clean and strong metal tool box with several drawers to organize and store his tools. It is the pride of any garage, regardless whether it has anything in it or not.
Typically, a garage floor is either oily and dirty or someone has installed something to absorb water and all of the other drippings emanating from a car, be it oil, transmission fluid, or radiator fluid. Even if you have gone to the trouble of painting or tiling the garage floor, unless you have something to absorb the goop, all of your efforts will be for naught. To this end, I have seen a variety of mats and carpeting used, even newspaper and flattened boxes. As they get sufficiently soiled, you can dispose of them accordingly. Perhaps the most imaginative approach is a long flat aluminum pan that can hold a sufficient amount of cat litter, which is very absorbent and easy to dispose (not to mention a lot cheaper than most of your other alternatives). There is, of course, only one drawback to it, and that is if you have a cat who needs to relieve himself and knows how to get into the garage.
Finally, we come to garage doors. My grandfather's garage had old fashioned side-by-side barn doors that swung open. Most of the houses I have lived in though had the classic garage door on springs that opened bottom-up. For my younger readers, it may come as a surprise to learn we didn't always have electric garage door openers. It wasn't until the 1980's that home garage door openers became popular. Prior to this, everything had to be opened and closed manually and inevitably the job of tending to the garage door became the responsibility of youth to perform, e.g,, "Son, get out and open the garage door." Most of the time it wasn't really a bad job unless one of the garage door springs was weak or broken thereby causing the door to gain considerable weight and give you a hernia at any early age. My father never understood the problem as he would admonish me, "Oh come on, lift it up. What's the big deal? I never had a problem opening the garage door when I was a kid." Somehow he conveniently failed to remember his father had side-by-side garage doors, not a massive wooden door that weighed ten tons without spring support.
Regardless of the petty problems associated with the garage, it remains one of man's favorite spots where he can play with his toys, enjoy a smoke without being harassed, and keep his treasures away from the other members of his family. It not only keeps him happy, but his family as well, after all, it keeps him out of their hair.
Keep the Faith!
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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.