I ate my wafer...

2/17/2005

So, as QF45 would put it, time for some navel-gazing:


Growing up, I picked up a double-edged aptitude for quick fixes. In practical terms it means that I can beat the last mile out of failing mechanical devices, from throwing pepper in a radiator, or water in a slipping transmission, freezing a failing hard drive overnight, using radiator hose, and beer to patch the Highlands plumbing during a party... This is the mechanical realm of baling wire, duct tape, hose clamps, and JB weld. I would guess virtually all of my friends have heard: ?there's always another way?, ?its not what you can do with the tools you wish you had, its what you can do by making do with what's in the bag?, or ?its a matter of MAKING it work? come out of my mouth while staring at some mechanical problem without the correct tools or parts.


Fairly often in my life, I show someone a quick fix, and they light up thinking the problem is fixed, or can be safely ignored. I wind up telling the following cautionary tale about human nature to abuse quick fixes:


Sometime, on a Sunday in the mid 1970's, the pressure switch on my grandparent's deep well water pump stuck, and the pump wouldn't run=no water. My grandfather, since he could not physically go into the basement and look, described to my grandmother what a pressure switch was, how to tell were it was, and to ?go down and tap it a couple of times hard with the side of the flashlight?. She walked downstairs, followed his diagram and explanation, found the pressure switch and smacked it a couple times, and the pump turned on. Fast forward ten years at which point my grandfather has moved on to the big tool and die shop in the sky. My dad gets a call from his mother, who asks which well drilling company to have look at her pump, since her water just died. He decides to go over and take a look, she hands him an oddly battered flashlight, he goes down into the basement, and traces the wires and pipes to the pressure switch, which is completely covered in dents smeared paint transfers, and scratches. Why? Because, the switch had been sticking on, increasingly frequently over the last 10 years, and at the cost of dozens of flashlight bulbs, my grandmother had kept using the quick fix. Rather obviously, using the smack the switch method was fine for a one or two time thing on a weekend. But the switch was inevitably going to fail eventually, and there was the possibility that it could fail in a dangerous manner.

Besides abusing actual material quick fixes, my family is extremely prone to doing this emotionally. There are probably at least a dozen topics in my family that are simply not discussed because at some point in the past, the emotional duct tape of not thinking/talking/etc was applied, and worked temporarily. I'm tempted to list a couple of the ones that are darkly humorous, but it seems a bit out of line (#2 Cardinal Rule of Blogging: don't publish family emotional issues that are not talked about? Or doesn't if count unless I discover it the hard way?). I don't want to make it sound as if I grew up in a completely emotionless family, far from it. For that matter, there are some minor emotional sore spots that will heal over time if never discussed or thought about. However, now that I think about it, there is all sorts of stuff that boils back out in unhealthy ways. I suspect that at least 5 or 6 of my friends have been on the receiving end of this at various times, that I've lashed out unfairly and harshly because of one of these temporary, suppression fixes. Sorry guys, I'm aware of this now, and plan on working on it, hopefully faster than things boil up in hurtful ways.. It appears that suppressed, painful emotional things take 2-3 years to work back to the surface, sort of like glass.


2 Comments:

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger August., at 3:12 AM  

  • Hey, man, you know, call me crazy, but I get a feeling your friends are gonna understand...

    By Blogger August., at 3:24 AM  

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