• Jacob Maxwell

Disposing with Disposability: A Story of Healthy Procrastination

It’s a sunny Tuesday morning in April. The beauty of the weather, lengthening days, and awakening wildlife has been dampened by the onset of exam season. As I have been every morning for the past week, I’m hunched over my laptop at my desk writing, tweaking, rewriting, and overanalyzing my four-thousand word literature review. Around midday, I get the call. My brand new summer tires are on the rims and ready for pickup. Despite the fast-approaching deadline for my lit review, I drop everything as soon as I can, pick up the tires and rush home. I hastily change into a well-worn pair of cutoff wranglers and a checkered flannel before grabbing my tools and heading outside. The latches on the case of my brand new socket set and torque wrench are still stiff as I open them up and get to work. The stones of my parking lot bite into my back as I position the jack under the axle and crank it up. By the time I’m ready to use my torque wrench, my hands have been blackened by the chassis, the tires and the jack. I partially lower the car to steady the wheel. As I turn each wheel nut until it reaches eighty foot-pounds, the click of the torque wrench is like a salute: a tactile and auditory token of a job done well, done at home, and done for free.

I'm passionate about science, animals, and art. As valuable as they are, these pursuits tend to keep me indoors at my desk or in my bedroom, particularly during a pandemic. I was taught growing up to love and care for objects and machines. Despite it taking me twenty years to fully embrace this principle, I have, more recently, found that caring for the objects and machines in my life is cathartic and restorative, and allows me to bring my best self to every other pursuit. Whether it’s scrubbing down a stained pair of white converse or getting my hands dirty underneath my humble and reliable Toyota Echo, I almost always take greater pleasure in maintaining than replacing. Although my love for exercise gets me outside often enough, being in the sun in the presence of the animals and people of my neighbourhood, all while bringing order to one of my machines simply hits different. Much like an old stick-shift car or a dirty pair of sneakers, my tools - the objects that allow me to maintain - are like trophies with moving parts. Unlike so many things in our culture of disposability, my brand new socket set and torque wrench will be with me forever, at my beck and call when tires need changing, when something breaks in the house, or if all I need on a sunny April afternoon is to get off my computer, into the sun, and out of my head.

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