||What if Spartacus had a circular saw?
by Garrison Frost
What if Spartacus had a Piper Cub? I remember that bit well from the early days of Saturday Night Live, Kirk Douglas reprising his role as the historical slave leader yelling various epithets at the Roman legions while tossing whatever he could find in the cockpit (a lunchbox, I recall) down upon them. By the time the gag was over, it was fairly clear that if Spartacus had a Piper Cub not all that much would have been different (although if Spartacus had a Piper Cub and a few bombs, even a few heavy rocks, that might have been a different story).
Anyway, while a light plane might not have been of much use in the century before Christ, I don't have any doubt that a circular saw and a power drill might have come in handy. With those tools, I'm guessing that Spartacus could have cut down a few trees and built his own boats to get out of Italy. He could have built some forts, perhaps even fashioned a trebuchet. Assuming he had a cord long enough, a circular saw really might have come in handy during a battle. And in close combat, a power drill could have been pretty dangerous.
There aren't a lot of things you can't do with a circular saw and power drill. As someone who has spent the bulk of the last two summers fixing up the house, I can attest to that fact. I've used them to build fences, patio furniture and displays for my wife's ceramics. I've used them to hang shelves and blinds, and fix up the kitchen. They've been integral to my garage improvement project. And they've been indispensable in all this landscaping work we're doing. But I know I've only scratched the surface in terms of what's possible with these tools.
Same with the power drill. I can't tell you how many times I've imagined what would happen to my positioning hand if my bit jumped while I was driving a screw. Wouldn't be pretty. But it's that vision that motivates me to be extra careful. In the meantime, I've connected several thousand things to other things using the drill. Sure, in many of these cases, a hammer and nail might have sufficed, but using screws makes things tighter and better.
One indicator of a great tool is how long it has been around, and the circular saw and power drill fit that. Sure, they haven't been around as long as the wheelbarrow or the hammer, but they are fairly time tested. If you go to Home Depot today, you'll see that the most expensive ones today aren't all that different from the old ones in your dad's garage. They might have a couple of nifty features, but it's pretty much the same product.
So what if Spartacus had a circular saw? Or a power drill? Hard to say. He certainly accomplished quite a bit without them. I mean, he had all of Rome shaking in its boots. That was no small feat. But I like to think that if he'd had them, he could have built his own Rome. Just like we can build a doghouse or a fence or just about anything else.
As to the question of what if Spartacus had a Home Depot nearby, we'll leave that for another day.
(Aug. 15, 2006)
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