I miss my years in the Boy Scouts. I miss the camping, the hiking, the training, and the uniforms. I especially miss the greatest tool a Scout could ever carry—the Swiss Army Knife. My wife got me a new one for Christmas, and I’ve since used it to open boxes and cut tape. Last night, with knife in hand, I decided to convert an empty tin can into a penny bank. . . and failed miserably. Scouts everywhere are burning their merit badges in humiliation.
I used to be pretty handy with the Swiss Army Knife. It has a proud history, you know. The History Network has a splendid podcast on the history of the popular multi-tool. Between childhood and adulthood, I wielded a Leatherman. That one is equally handy and always kept in reach. But there was something classy about the red-paneled, cross-emblazoned doodad. In Boy Scouts, I kept my knife clipped to my belt the way Luke Skywalker clipped his light saber to his belt. . . and between us nerds. . . I felt pretty damned cool. Getting a new Swiss Army Knife made me feel handy again. This was the chance to excel around the homestead!
At least, that was the plan.
I am often conflicted by the excess buildup of waste around my home. Much of it can be recycled or reused. So when I came across an empty tin can used for storing hot cocoa, I refused to part with the refuse. Out came my Swiss Army Knife with an instant plan to convert the container into a penny bank. My plan of attack was simple: use the large blade to cut a quarter-sized slot in the lid of the can. Sheet metal? No problem. The knife punctured the lid. I next used the flat-head screwdriver to pry apart the opening. The lid was capped with a hollow space in the middle, so I had to repeat the puncture on the bottom.
Now came the test phase. Dropping change in a penny bank involves precision and gravity. I took notes. The dime went in easy. So did the quarter. But the penny, that dastardly rogue of pocket change, threw my project to hell. The opening had curled slightly at the edges, causing Mr. Lincoln to slip sideways into the space of the capped lid. This was not an easy fix. After using my Swiss Army Knife to straighten the slot and repeat my coin drops, I had managed to deposit fifteen cents inside the lid itself.
You can’t run a bank if the money slips into the roof instead of the vault.
I showed the wife my project with all the excitement of a kid at a science fair. My penny bank was not well received. It was only then that I realized the truth: despite the handiness of my multiplex knife, the penny bank was a doomed experiment. It was best used at this point for storing dreams and pixie dust.
That evening we made BLTs for dinner. BLTs would make me feel better. But there was one problem. . . we didn’t have a grease can. Around the house, we eat a lot of salsa and chips. Salsa jars make great grease cans. We hadn’t consumed enough chips to use up our salsa supply, thus we had no empty jars to hold the grease produced by all that delicious bacon. But I had just the receptacle for the job. It was waiting three feet away next to a pile of unused pocket change.
Thus the crude coin slot was sealed with mankind’s next best tool, duct tape, and promptly delivered to the stove.
For half an hour, the Swiss Army Knife made me feel like a Boy Scout again. Yes, the project failed, but it could never have started without that fabled tool. Not everyone can wield a Swiss Army Knife. This is a tool for the proud and the brave.