It was not so much a dream but rather a goal of mine to carry around a hammer for a living. As a child, plumbers and painters would regularly come into our home wearing tool belts equipped wrenches and screwdrivers and bolts, but a hammer to me was the ultimate status symbol. The ultimate emblem of power according to The Thor.
To me, there was always a certain prominence that accompanied the act of carrying a hammer and here at Los Cuatro Tulipanes, seeing as that we lack a fulltime maintenance man on the premises, Keenan and I are encouraged to realize this distinction and carry the hammer ourselves.
When I’m out in the street with my hammer, people know I mean business.
While it might not be the most impressive thing to carry, in comparison to, say, chewing tobacco or a set of boxing gloves, it certainly evokes a certain sense of experience and faculty that no doubt raises eyebrows to tourists and locals alike.
In addition to the hammer, there have been times when carrying tools or products around the neighborhood blows people’s minds. What is he doing with a kitchen sink, some might have thought to themselves as I lugged the porcelain tank down Calle 4. Or what about the time I had to transport my ladder to the Palacio unit: if he owns a ladder, some might have figured, he surely owns sufficient space to store such a thing. He must be rich, maybe even a prince of a small country.
There are however downsides that come with the carrying of the tools; the obvious being that people think you are open for business. “Hey!” I once heard coming from the inside of a neighbor’s house. “Hey, gringo, over here.” I peeked into the doorway where a curious Sra. Echiva was motioning for me to fix a leaking faucet. Which gringo, I thought to myself. You mean me? This gringo isn’t fixing anything.
I think I can speak for Keenan and myself that running Los Cuatro Tulipanes has uncannily increased our knowledge in the fields of electrics, plumbing, and tele-communications. It was not two weeks ago that I managed to rig a shower to deliver hot water after several plumbers quoted me for re-routing the system at $200. Keenan, for example, is now an expert on the art of cleaning split air conditioning units and he learned so not from the detailed Spanish instructions but from the cartoon-like drawings which displayed a happy little woman with a perfectly circular head and triangular hands.
Carrying a hammer in Casco Viejo doesn’t gain you friends like might a soccer ball or small wad of dollar bills, but it definitely gives the impression that you’re someone who knows what he’s doing. And for the time being, that’s perfectly alright with me.