Woodworking makes me stupid

Like most people, I occasionally do dumb things. Unlike most people, I do them most often right after woodworking.

The sheer enjoyment of being in the shop tends to make my brain shut off upon returning to the real world. I suppose it’s good that clicking and dragging the entire contents of my brain to the metaphorical trashcan icon doesn’t occur while in the shop, or I’d be describing scenarios like those in my last blog from a hospital bed. No, I generally keep my head on straight around tools; it’s just afterward that I have a problem.

After wrapping up some finishing chores earlier this week I decided to let things dry a bit and take care of some errands. As always, I changed out of my shop duds for street wear, and headed to the local Giant Eagle for some groceries. I got what I needed, took everything to the checkout, bagged it, then reached for my back pocket to pay the $67.28 tab. Nothing in my pocket but lint; my wallet was still in my shop pants.

Now, you’re probably thinking anyone could do that. Perhaps, but I’ve done it so many times that instead of holding my groceries hostage the kind folks at the store routinely allow me to take it home and come back to correct my stupidity. I do this so often that the checkout clerks joke when I start putting things on the belt. “Hey, bring your wallet this time? Har-Har.” I do this so often that when their lips say “Har-har,” I really hear, “What a maroon.” Seriously, I have done this at least seven or eight times in the last year.

Back in the shop, I was checking out the finishing job I’d done before the shopping trip and, still stinging from embarrassment, had a small epiphany. If I squirreled away a credit card somewhere in the car – or, better yet, a Giant Eagle gift card – I’d never again have to make a double trip to get a few groceries. A simple, but elegant solution. Trouble is, I’ve been in and out of the shop a dozen times since, and each time I’m in there I have an oh-yeah moment where I realize I’ve not yet done it. I can’t seem to remember it upon leaving the shop.



  • Chuck R says:

    I keep my wallet and cell phone in the car – works fine.

  • Aaron Sikes says:

    I think you’re being too hard on yourself, but maybe that’s because I’ve done this, too, and I think I have you beat at nearly a dozen times in the past year. LOL

    Maybe you’ve seen this before: http://woodworkingtips.com/etips/etip25.html

    If not, I think the answer to our collective troubles around forgetfulness lies somewhere in that list of reasons we love shop time more than almost any other time we have. My solution is to change from shop duds to street duds in the shop, and I start by emptying my pockets into a parts tray or clear spot on the workbench (yes, I’ve got a clear spot…somewhere under all that stuff) 🙂

  • Tommy says:

    Long ago got into the habit of slapping my pocket as I exit the car to double check for my wallet. I had been embarrassed enough.

  • Ed says:

    It’s well documented that in the process of physically passing through a doorway, your brain also enters another “room”. It leaves/clears the previous room to process what is in the next. It is very common for someone to need to re-enter the room they just exited to remember what they entered the second room for! (At least it’s very common for me.)

    This is also common with computer usage. As an example, when opening another window on a browser, I often can’t remember what I opened it for. I need to go back to the previous window to remember what I wanted to do.

    Talk about short term memory loss…

  • Bob Pickard says:

    A.J – Sounds like your suffering from that malady we old folks get called CRS – ” Can’t remember s**t –

  • Howard Van Valzah says:

    Now you know why I’m going for an Alzheimer test next week just to find out I don’t have yet, I hope.

  • Jim says:

    I think I did this, but I’m not sure …

  • jerry moors says:

    How about keeping a small notebook handy in the shop so you can write down all of your spure-of-the-moment thoughts? Some of those ideas may even be useful in the shop at a later date.

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