Loose Screws

Adrian Hanft
2 min readMar 31, 2018

carriage bolt

I really shouldn’t be doing this right now. So many better ways to spend my time. There’s the freelance projects, the weekend errands, unread books, Saturday morning posts to write. And yet I can’t stop.

rounded phillips wood screw

These screws, they build up over years of odd jobs and weekend projects. I can’t use them but I can’t throw them out, either. So they collect in little piles here and there. Why now should I have the urge to organize them?

hex self drilling sheet metal screw

Is it procrastination? No, some part of me needs this right now. To consider each screw, measure its value. To reevaluate the bonds that hold despite years of tension. To acknowledge the beautiful transformation of energy from twisting fists into locked connections. To notice the worn threads and reflect on the imperfections. To just look and appreciate something that I have taken for granted.

torx countersunk wood screw

I should be awed by the precision represented by this simple machine, the tolerances so strict that they border on perfection. Should I honor the war waged generations ago, the quest for standards fought at a time when every screw was made by hand? Would we have stood on the moon if human consensus wasn’t codified into standards? It should be reassuring to acknowledge the sanity baked into these tiniest details of life. And yet…

thread cutting machine screw

As I sort these screws it’s hard not to look for my reflection. I see a staircase, an ascending spiral, the arc of a career climbing higher and higher. Or am I sliding down? It’s hard to remember which way this world is rotating sometimes.

slotted button wood screw

I keep preaching, “the more you look, the more you see.” And it’s true. Even this pile of bolts is a collection of stories waiting to be told. Just look at this one…

flat slotted machine screw

Whose brush kissed these grooves with paint?

How many years of neglect caused these rusty edges?

Whose angry hammer bent this steel?

Whose knuckles bled after flesh grated against these tiny teeth?

How many adoring sons watched a furious father utterly defeated by a stripped notch?

combo pan machine screw

And as my piles dwindle away, as the screws are slid into tiny drawers, I wonder. How long will the things I have built last? When only bits and scraps of my work remain, what story will they tell? And will anyone even notice?

Thanks for reading. I organize my loose screws publicly every Saturday morning. If my writing bonds with you, consider connecting with me. Stay creative.



Adrian Hanft

Author of User Zero: Inside the Tool that is Reshaping Dystopia