1 April 2000

Last week a man got into trouble for duct-taping a small child to a wall. The story was in the paper. I laughed. So did everyone else I know who read the story. Now, I know that most people are going to say it is very politically incorrect and insensitive of us to laugh at such a thing-- and since we weren't there it is impossible for us to acquit that man of malicious intentions, and if his intentions were malicious, then we all agree that he should be punished-- but, but! I've got to tell something which you may find disturbing...

If you were to put me, or any of my friends, in a room with a small child and a roll of duct tape, none of us can guarantee that the child wouldn't end up duct-taped to the wall. And it has nothing to do with malice towards the child. It has to do with duct tape.

Duct tape is a wonderful invention. It is a silver-colored reinforced adhesive tape. The tape comes on big rolls that are usually 3 or 4 inches wide, and it tears straight whichever way it is torn. It is easy to handle, and yet it sticks really good. I was first introduced to it when I was working at Bettencourt's Honda as a motorcycle parts clerk. Duct tape was used for-- everything. It has myriad uses, practical and impractical.

You can fix almost anything in the world with duct tape. Honest. About six years ago I broke the yellow lense on my Toyota's turn signal light. The auto parts store wanted $25 for that little piece of plastic. But I took a piece of yellow plastic from a bread wrapper, doubled it up and duct-taped it over the light. That piece of plastic is still there, watertight, only problem is that the color of the plastic wrap has faded. I s'pose I'll have to change it...

Recently I read about a guy who taped a broken data CD back together by laying the pieces on a square of duct tape, then trimming out the center, and he found he could play the CD well enough to retrieve the data. And I've seen guys tape deep cuts together until they could go in for stitches. And I've used duct tape to repair leaks and benches and boots-- anyway, everyone who worked at the shop kept a roll of duct tape in his toolbox, in his verhicle(s), and in his house. It was a strange thing. And I discovered over the years that everyone-- everyone who has ever been introduced to the wonders of duct tape soon develops an irresistable need to have it.

The other interesting thing about duct tape is that it has a magical quality of inviting experimentation. If you handle a roll of duct tape, you quite naturally find yourself thinking of applications for it. Practical and impractical. You can't help it. And I can tell you for a certainty that it would be very strange indeed if someone who had a roll of duct tape and a small child didn't think that, perhaps...

I'd've tried it. And I bet the kid would have been amused by finding himself stuck on the wall for a few minutes. I know I would. In fact, I wonder... where's that roll of tape...

The Duct Tape Guys on the Web

The Duct Tape Page

As you can see, I'm not the only one.


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