Thursday, May 12, 2011

Totally Screwed

I write all these posts from Steve's computer (mine isn't hooked to the internet). He's a slob in a very cool, mostly adorable absent-minded professor-ish kind of way. Looking at his desk is like looking at one of those hidden objects games - all kinds of fascinating stuff is piled around. There's a belt, loose change, computery stuff, a tiny magnifying mirror, drafting pencils, paper work of all kinds, a wrench, pens, nail clippers, receipts for everything from drills to printer ink cartridges to cigarettes and gummy worms (I am always amused that a 56 year old man has a penchant for gummy worms), and screws and nails. All kinds of screws and nails.

The screws and nails get emptied out of his pockets every night when he comes home from his construction job. There's a pretty good collection of them going on and it fascinates me. There's a different screw and nail for every purpose. While it might work to occasionally substitute one for the other, if you want the job done right, you use the right equipment.

This is his credo, and one that I love.

On my birthday the first year that we were together, he bought me six different pairs of high end scissors, each one destined for a different application, each one sharp and ready for action. He seemed a little sheepish about giving such a gift, saying, "I wanted you to have the right tools to do the things you do." I had to take a very deep breath to keep from crying. I was touched. It showed me that he cared about me being happy and at ease with what I was doing, but more than that, it showed me that he cared about the integrity of what I was doing. In effect, he was saying, "If you're going to do what you do, do it right."

Sure, I'd made do with cheap, fairly dull scissors for years. I barely even realized just how bad they were. Then I made my first project using the new birthday scissors. They worked so well - I could do the job in less time with less hassle and my hand wasn't cramped up afterward.

How often do we sacrifice quality for the purpose of just getting the job done? I sometimes watch the show Chopped, where contestants are given a basket of four unrelated foods and expected to make a dish in 30 minutes. It's always funny watching the judges' faces. I keep waiting for one of them to be completely honest. As they're washing down with water a pea-sized bit of something repulsive, they tend to say things like, "Your use of cumin with the poptarts was brilliant!" I want them to say, "Yeah, it's edible and I'd be thankful for it keeping me alive if I was running out of food in my fallout shelter, but to be honest, it looks and tastes like shit!"

So, I'm sitting here admiring this pile of various screws and nails, and the man who knows why, where, when and how to use each and every one of them. When he builds stuff, it's a sure bet that it's not going to come apart without the help of explosives.

Screw adequacy. Screw mediocrity.


Do it right. Use the proper tools - metaphorically and literally speaking.

If you're going to do what you do, do it right.

7 comments:

  1. Words of wisdom! That was a wonderful and thoughtful gift Steve gave you. He's a man after my own heart! (i watch Chopped, too, and have had the same thoughts! Haha, "cumin and poptarts", eww!)

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  2. oh yes! another pushed-back curtain which allows us to see through the windows into Barb's soul. Thank you...

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  3. Very well said! I agree completely, and it sounds like the 2 of you compliment each other very well. Yay! :)

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  4. Actually that scissors story kind of made us both want to cry, because it's always the useful stuff like that, when someone notices what you really need, that is just awesome. And by the way we love your cards - viva coffee!

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  5. I'm with you. I learned it the hard way with my mom when I was younger. Because if you're going to do a job, you should do it right the first time. Otherwise, you spend twice the time getting it right, and who has that kind of time these days?
    Ava

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  6. Sometimes my need to do things at the 110% level gets me in trouble, but you have reminded me that doing what you do, and doing is well, is a positive. Thankfully, I am learning there are a few areas that can be done half-assed (like cleaning and having causal get togethers with friends, which I mistakenly used to also do at 110% level.)

    And what I really love about this post is reading about the beautiful way in which Steve showed you he believes in you and what you do. Everybody needs a fan like that, only some are lucky enough to have one.

    Thank you for this beautiful simplicity that you do so well!

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  7. I think that maybe you just thought that you were looking at Steve's desk, but you were really looking at mine - did you see my facebook page today? LOL I even managed to clean my desk while blogger was in its coma.

    Love the post - you've got my brain working now.

    :)

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