Friday, November 21, 2014

Broken









If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. It’s a phrase we’ve all heard before. I know I have personally used it numerous times, but more often than not, I have used it in a joking manner. I don’t believe it’s a good phrase to use for a number of reasons. I got to thinking about this lately because I realized that everything around me seems to be broken or breaking and thereby minimizing my opportunities to properly use the phrase.


I love to remodel, update, and improve my house, vehicles, and property. Even if nothing is broken, I still want to “fix” them. A fresh coat of paint on the walls. A few new plants in front of the house. A new stereo in the truck. They’re all things that aren’t broken, but I have a nagging desire to improve them. It would be nice if I had the opportunity to tackle those projects, but here in the real world, everything is breaking before I get to force my own ideas of improvement upon them.


A few weeks ago, I put my hand through the wall in the shower because a water leak destroyed the backing behind the tile and the wall gave out. The good from this is that now I know how to tile a shower wall. The negative is that I didn’t have the desire, time, or money to do it at the time. At least I learned something new and my wife was reminded that it’s nice to keep me around.


Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of riding to the rescue to jump start my wife’s Jeep at her work when it didn’t start. It felt nice to be able to “rescue” her with this simple task...if that had been the end of the story. The next morning I realized that the issue went a bit deeper. My assumption was that one of our girls had left a dome light on and drained the battery. Not so. I am a pretty handy guy, but when it comes to being a mechanic, I’m not afraid to tell people that I’m the guy they put a picture of a gas can on the gas cap for. That’s why I am fortunate to have a couple of good buddies that are awesome mechanics. After a number of phone calls and texts with them, I had removed the alternator and had it tested. Replaced the alternator because it was fine and then replaced the battery because of course, it’s usually the simplest thing. Yippy! I fixed the Jeep without either of my buddies having to get their hands dirty for once. If only that was the end of it...as you’ll read later on in this post.


That same week, I was notified by my neighbor that they were kind enough to close my front storm door for me because it was blowing open in the wind. When I got home from work, I was overjoyed to find out that the storm door had swung open so fast and hit the steel railing on the stairs, that it actually bent the storm door. Not only is our storm door a relatively new and nice door (Read: Not needing to be updated until now), it is also a great barrier against the harsh Minnesota winter wind. One of these days I will have to see if I can fix that because it was one of the few well-sealed parts of our aging house.


Last week our laptop decided to crash. Normally, it wouldn’t have been the end of the world, but the timing was awful. My wife uses the laptop in the evenings to do things for her side business and apparently it’s not as much fun to do all that typing on her phone. I guess I can’t argue with that since you won’t often find me typing out a blog post on my phone...but I have done it. Fortunately for me once again, I know all the right people. It doesn’t hurt that I work for a managed IT services provider. (Don’t worry, I’m not one of the service engineers. I’m in account management.) So, a few dollars, tips, tricks, and hours later, the laptop was back up and running again. For the record, the laptop is one of the things on my list to update. I just want to do it on my terms.


This past week, I have been driving my wife’s Jeep because there is no heat coming from the vents. For those of you who haven’t been to Minnesota in November, that’s a bad thing. Good thing I’ve got those buddies on speed dial! (After the past couple of weeks, I actually moved them from speed dial to personalized direct dial icons on my Android home screen.) It appears that it is only the thermostat stuck wide open, but I won’t know until tomorrow when we tear into it. We’ll see how that goes. For now, I’m trying not to think about how bad I realized the tires are on the Jeep while driving it this week.


I think I’ve listed enough of my woes to make my point. Any more and it will just start to sound like whining (which I can’t stand). There is a lot to learn about the whole broke/not broke, fix/don’t fix cycle. I have learned that I still enjoy fixing things...even if it’s not necessarily on my terms. I have always loved learning new things, so the more things that break, the better chance I have of getting to learn something new. I have learned that I have amazing friends who always seem to be ready and willing to lend a helping hand and/or a few words of wisdom. It also hasn’t hurt earning all the extra brownie points with my wife for putting out all these fires this month. I probably shouldn’t use that phrase, because I only have a handful of firefighter buddies.


I guess the overall point to my ramblings today, is that I think there are better ways to look at things than “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. For example, better maintenance of my house and vehicles (fixing when not broken yet) probably would have saved me a few headaches this past month. As a manager of 20 plus years, the same can be said for processes in the workplace. Sticking with the same process you’ve always used because it ain’t broke also means it isn’t going to improve either. I could spin this off into a tangent about not wanting to “reinvent the wheel”, but I’ll save you the extra reading.


I will sign off now as I will probably need the rest tonight. I get to grout the tiles in the shower tomorrow (still not really done with that project) and then off to (hopefully) fix the heat in the Jeep. I’m also hoping I can make it through this week without any new break/fix scenarios or else I will be broke. I’m also going to put my own twist on the phrase: If it ain’t broke, it probably ain’t mine. Until next time...