If you think this sounds like the results most men’s weekend projects, you’d be right. I won’t speak for most men – well yes, yes, I will. There’s a certain level of “fix” that men are comfortable with in many cases. For the most part, the tools involved in the fix include masking tape, a hammer, a screwdriver and a beer in hand.
I was raised in this way. My dad actually said to me, “son, if you want it done right, pay someone to do it.” And then we laughed at the fact that he called me “son.” The rest of the statement was no joke. And so there I was as a teenager in a hard-working, blue-collar family with my life advice for when something breaks - to pull from my barely-above-zero bank account to get it fixed. Fortunately, I only followed that advice for three decades. I lived past my 30-year high school reunion with fear of carefully disassembling an object, with every intention of reassembly, and instead losing the functionality of said object for the rest of eternity.
Today, thanks in large part to Google videos, I’ve begun to showcase my skills in the repair arena, specifically for things outside of my comfort zone. One recent project was my daughter’s car. It was an old car, mind you. Bought off a cheesy car lot for $4,500 with a mess of issues. Don’t ask why, I just bought it. Figured it wouldn’t take too much money to get all the little things up and right again. Mhm…
It needed work, and I was going to tackle it. No, not the engine. I could seriously injure myself wrenching at things in the gaping mouth of a Touareg. The headlight electrical was shot and it needed a new lighting compartment and wiring unit. Sounds like a project for dad, I loudly exclaimed to myself. And so, I began. It was mid-morning, I had my Google video, my tools, a discount card from Ace Hardware, and the garage refrigerator stocked with cold beer within arm’s reach.
A wise green chap once said, “Do or do not. There is no try.” Yoda’s words are certainly wise. And so, I do… uh, I mean, I did. I fixed it four times. Four times I took it apart, put in new parts, put it back together and tested. At points, some lights worked. Other times, nothing worked. In fact, I broke a plastic holder piece deep inside the casing and it fell somewhere into the engine compartment. A baptism of sorts. My hope is the plastic will hit a hot spot on the engine and slowly melt away with no one the wiser to my gaffe.
Took four hours, two trips to the auto parts store, one Amazon shipment, and one Amazon return. Still broken. Worth every second. Here’s why…
I did. I implement in an area that was unfamiliar to see how I managed the situation. I didn’t procrastinate; I simply started and ended up directionally correct.
I bonded. A curious neighbor stopped by and we worked together for some time. His young son even became our runner for tools and such. It was nice to know that I wasn’t alone in my quest. In most cases, we never are.
I accomplished. Ok, fine, I eventually paid someone to fix it. The metaphorically good news is the mechanic had the car for two full days and the issue was much more than the casing and wiring. When I finally picked up the car, it still wasn’t fully working. So, yeah, my talent is up there with the best of them.
I discovered. Now I know a little bit more. More about who I am, how I respond to an unfamiliar challenge and why it’s important to do. I also discovered that I prefer the Fall beer medley of Sam Adams over any other seasonal selection.
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"freedom at work"