Don Draper knows how to fix things. In Marriage of Figaro, he singlehandedly built Sally a play house for her birthday. He fixed a rickety chair for Anna when he visited her in California; later, he painted a wall in her home that had water damage. He did these things well, and without much effort.
Don doesn’t even have to love people to fix things for them. In Signal 30, he fixed the wonky faucet in Pete and Trudy’s kitchen — again, quickly and skillfully.
In Time Zones, the sliding door to the balcony in Don’s New York penthouse was stuck open. That door is glass and metal: a simple enough thing to fix. But Don, alone in the draft from that stuck-open door, seemed utterly unable to deal with it.
We’ve seen him like this before. Before their dinner party in A Night To Remember, Betty reminded him to fix an electrical outlet in the dining room: he didn’t even get out of bed. An innocent dining-room chair with a loose leg later paid the price for Don’s indolence.
In A Day’s Work, Don finally seems to see his resemblance to that sliding door. When he describes the mess he made at the office to Sally, he admits he stayed in New York to “fix it.” But he doesn’t look hopeful, and perhaps he has little reason to be. Don knows how deeply stuck he is. He also realizes that what really needs fixing is right at that table, in that roadside diner.
I said the wrong things to the wrong people at the wrong time. – Don
For a man so attuned to the mechanics of desire, Don has never been handy with love. Recall another road trip, in Far Away Places: remember what he did to his dining partner in that roadside diner?
Don tends to avoid the trouble of mending the hearts he breaks (even his own) by simply moving on. When he faces Sally across that diner table and starts to tell the truth, it’s not because he knows what he’s doing.
Don is not good at this. He’s all thumbs. But he can no longer put off fixing it, and this at least is progress.