When Thomas Neviaser needed a screw for his glasses, he knew just where to look in his garage. After all, he set up the garage to fit his needs. It was his castle, and he was king, a feeling that's summed up in his book "Man's Unofficial Guide to the Use of His Garage."
Neviaser remembered that day at his Fairfax Station residence. A screw for eyeglasses is a tiny, specialty screw that wouldn't be among a jar of miscellaneous screws. Neviaser knew he would need it one day and put it in a particular place, just like everything else in the garage.
"I went into the garage to get a screw for my glasses, and I knew exactly where it was," he said.
Although a garage for some is just a place to park a car, that's not the case with Neviaser's garage. His garage is a place for tools, thought and escape. As a matter of fact, anyone with a garage who is just going to park a car and turn off the lights should not even read the book, he said. The point of the book, he said, was "to give some hints as to a cleverly designed organization of a garage so that you may have the best of both worlds."
The book is a how-to manual with clever insights and organizational ideas. But cars are the second fiddle to the other things in a garage, as indicated on the book’s cover, which has a car in the driveway with "2nd Fiddle" on the license plate.
Although his book is not destined for the reading list of a university's American literature class, Neviaser feels that a place exists for it. For 30 years, he's honed his garage organization skills and summed it up with a bit of humor.
"It's an evaluation of the 30 years that I screwed up," he said.
One tip Neviaser had was to use plywood for the interior walls instead of wall board. Wood screws will not pull out of plywood as easily when things are mounted on the wall.
Neviaser's thoughts weren't always focused on the garage, though. He earned a medical degree in 1966 at George Washington University and was an orthopedic surgeon from 1973-2003 in the Northern Virginia area. Most of that time, he had a practice in Vienna, and he moved to Fairfax Station in recent years. Neviaser is now semi-retired, seeing patients and performing surgery only occasionally. During his medical career, he's had 40 medical publications printed.
"This is my first step in the world of non-medical publications," Neviaser said.
An organized selection of tools would seem like a natural transition for a surgeon seeking to emphasize how important it was to have the right tool in the right location, but Neviaser said that wasn't what got him focused on garage organization.
"When you're in the operating room, you're asking for the tools and they put them in your hand," he said.
CHAPTERS of "Man's Unofficial Guide to the Use of His Garage" include "The Floor Plan," "Electrical and Lighting," "Tool Bench and Tools," without much artwork. Neviaser doesn't have a lot of horror stories about dealing with the publisher, either.
"It turned out to be just about the easiest thing to do," he said.
The book is dedicated to Neviaser's wife, Lynn, who first directed him to Word Association Publishers in Tarentum, Pa. She saw an article on writers and publishers, and it mentioned Word Association as "easy to deal with. It sounded like an interesting organization," she said. Subjects that the publisher works with include biography, business, cooking and sports, to name a few. Jim Baird is a graphic artist at Word Association, who did the cover of Neviaser's book.
"His was simple to go through compared to other books," Baird said.
Lynn Neviaser helped with the last chapter, "My Queen's Perspective," as well as proofreading. If she needs a tool, though, she waits for the organizer.
"The kitchen's mine; he gets the garage," she said.
Neviaser finished his first draft in December 2003, and the book hit the shelves in January 2004. "Man's Unofficial Guide to the Use of His Garage" is available through eBay, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
"The publishers told me, 'Now is the hard work. Writing the book is easy,'" referring to marketing the book, he said.
"My idea is that it should be marketed to women, maybe as a gift to give," Lynn Neviaser said.
Baird said that Word Association puts all its books on the Internet.
"We help them get it out there," Baird said.
Neviaser's first book signing was Thursday, Feb. 26, at the Burke United Methodist Church, and he plans another at a friend's house in March.