My pockets weigh something in the neighborhood of six metric tons. This is neither a result of gold plating, nor is it a by-product of knocking over an arcade and/or a particularly successful laundromat. In fact, before someone concludes that my dead body in some dark alley might yield a healthy R.O.I., I feel compelled to point out that the amount of weight on my person allocated to currency, coin, and gold bullion is somewhere in the neighborhood of three ounces, which equals approximately one dollar and forty-three cents. I’m an English major, remember. Regardless, the vast majority of the mass in my pants, and I tip my hat to those of you who made it through the clause without snickering, is dedicated to the large array of portable multi-tools I carry with me at all times. For those who might be wondering about the remaining three percent, it is a fairly even distribution between guitar picks, pocket lint, and items that I found on the floor and fully intend to eat at some point in the indefinite future. But, as is my want, I digress.
It is my assumption that the ability of the average man to turn his trousers into a scaled down version of an Ace Hardware is a somewhat recent phenomenon. In times long ago, a more primitive man’s toolbox was both clunky and stationary, consisting primarily of sticks of varying sizes and a large rock. Advances in manufacturing and ISO certification, however, have brought to us newer, lighter, smaller multi-purpose tools that seem to boast enough potential functionality to delay a modern man nearly sixty seconds before he retreats to the garage in order to forage for sticks of varying sizes and a hammer. Yes, look how far we’ve come. Indeed, thanks to the modern, pocket-sized multi-tools, men no longer have to wait until they get home to act on the often felt yet rarely spoken urge to disassemble unoffending and completely functional devices that they know nothing about. Courtesy of alcohol and cheap foreign labor, your husband now has the ability to disassemble your best friend’s VCR using only the contents of his pockets, and let me be the first to assure you that said device will never eat another tape again. Granted, it will never play another tape again, but at least the time-keeping function still works… sometimes… if you hit it.
Because portable tools are by necessity somewhat bulky, even if considerably less so than their larger and more useful toolbox brethren, it goes without saying that one can have too much of a good thing. This becomes very apparent when one examines what I used to run with as a standard operational payload. I had, at one point, all of the following at my disposal and on my person: four knife blades, three can openers, one bottle opener, one corkscrew, pliers, a 2-½” ruler, two Phillips screwdrivers, three flathead screwdrivers, a tiny (and useless) hacksaw, a pocket-watch, and a flashlight. In retrospect, that was a little much – I really only needed three knives.
There are other arguments for restraint in preparing for situations that, for most normal individuals, should not happen on a daily basis. For example, the more tools one has, the more one is exposed to certain hazards. Finding one’s car keys, particularly when they share a pocket with a Swiss Army knife and forty-three cents in change, would be a challenge for a team of Army Rangers. Furthermore, as a consequence of your average convenience store employee expecting to take a bullet or a shiv in the line of duty, producing half a dozen knives of varying sizes before you are able to produce a wallet tends to have a negative effect on the level of customer service you can expect. Couple all this with the nefarious corkscrew attachment – which will inevitably (and unbeknownst to you) snag your pocket material, swing out, and nearly perform some awkward exploratory surgery – and a good argument can be made for taking only what one needs to survive through the day.
This is, of course, a sentiment echoed by my wife, who really has no reason to talk. According to her, pockets exist solely for the purpose of fashion; therefore, due to the possibility for unsightly bulges, said pockets are not to be used for anything that can be said to have mass and take up space. Of course, she carries a purse of such diameter that I am seriously considering having myself buried in it, but to do that, it would have to be emptied. This would be no simple feat, as it is presently serving as a sort of Noah’s ark for hygiene products. Within her purse, by my approximation, there is at least two of every cleaning, scenting, and moisturizing product ever created. Given some of the miscellany we occasionally find within, I have a strong reason to suspect there is a tiny, indigenous people that live in her handbag and make occasional offerings to their kiwi-scented goddess – usually Tic Tacs.
Ultimately, I suppose, one complements the other. Friends are often appreciative when one can clean his own blood off the DVD player before sheepishly returning to his seat. And suffice it to say, I am not equipped to do that on my own. Simultaneously, were my wife left to her own devices in the opening of clam-shell packaging, I’m fairly certain her only recourse would be filing her teeth to cannibal-esque points and attempting to gnaw her way through. Either way, I’m eagerly awaiting power versions of the pocket-sized hand tool – provided they refrain from automating the corkscrew attachment. Nothing good could come of that.