The most glaringly empty outline on my pegboard is finally full.
I recently bought myself another Park AWS-1 hex wrench to replace the one that was lost to the Great Tool Theft of 2001 (why I waited so long, I do not know). For those who don't know the AWS-1, here's one I borrowed from the Park Tool site (hopefully, the link will inspire them to look the other way regarding my image theft).
I suspect that every mechanic has his or her go-to tool. When I was wrenching for money, the AWS-1 was mine. They were more stripped down back then, an angular, less ergonomic metal Y in the center and blue rubber covers over the actual hexes -- covers that invariably wore out, fell off and got lost. But the thing was always in my pocket, ready to crank through a new-bike assembly or make a quick pre-test-ride saddle adjustment on the sales floor. I would accidentally carry it home several times a week, and it often made an unplanned trip through the laundry in a jeans pocket. And if I happened to leave it on my bench, woe unto the junior mechanic who mistakenly picked it up and walked off with it.
When you used one daily, it didn't matter that all the ends looked pretty indistinguishable at first glance. You just knew by feel, by weight, where the 4, 5 and 6 were. I notice that Park has now color coded them -- call me a purist, but I'm glad my new (but obviously not quite as new as the photo) model lacks this rookie feature.
It's funny. I haven't regularly turned a wrench for a paycheck in... eight years now. But when I wrap my hand around that new AWS-1 or feel its outline in a back pocket, it's like being a younger, more in-shape, minimum-wage-earning version of myself all over again. Not a bad little trick for one simple tool.
(Now that I re-read this, it feels like a shill for Park, which was truly not my intention. No cash or product changed hands for this love-fest. I just really, really like this one particular tool, in case you didn't notice.)