ValueSpeak: The return of the Unaplumber

Published: Friday, May 30 2014 4:25 p.m. MDT

The way I see it, it isn't important that we succeed every time at everything we do. What's important is that we try, and that we give it our best shot.

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It was just a little hole, that's all it was — a little hole in the PVC pipe in my front-yard sprinkling system. An easy fix. A simple patch job — 15 minutes, max. Anyone could do it.

Well, OK — almost anyone.

If there was a league of handyman superheroes, I’d be the Boy Blunder. It isn't that I'm unwilling to tackle projects around the house. It's just that I'm, well, dangerous with tools. I am to auto mechanics what Lady Gaga is to fashion. As a carpenter, I've never met a nail I couldn't bend or a screw I couldn't strip. Put a paint brush in my hands and the Mona Lisa starts whimpering, the Sistine Chapel starts peeling and Michelangelo starts spinning in his grave. And when it comes to working with water pipes and hoses, I'm the Unaplumber.

I guess it's because I tend to approach problems logically — even problems that defy logic. Which is probably why I am prone to impatience with inanimate objects — you know, like lawnmowers. Or swamp coolers. Or transmissions. Or teenagers. If I can't reason with it, I'm going to have a hard time dealing with it — especially when it doesn't work when it's supposed to.

So I tried to be rational in my approach to the hole in the PVC pipe. I didn't get a "how-to" book or anything — that would be too logical. But I did study the problem, which included a trip to the hardware store to see what replacement materials were available. Logically, it seemed clear that all I needed to do was cut away the pipe a few inches on either side of the hole, get a couple of couplers, slap in a short length of unholy pipe, glue it all together with this special PVC glue and we'd be back in the lawn sprinkling business.

Piece of cake.

Unfortunately, they don't make PVC pipe out of cake. They make it out of something that breaks if you bend it too far, which is what my little piece of PVC pipe did as I tried to slip the unbroken piece into place. I was just a fraction of an inch away from completing the project, and then — SNAP! — I had two more holes to patch.

After three trips to the hardware store and some late night, flashlight-illuminated jerry-rigging, I finally got the sprinkler system working again. Sort of. But the grass around the sprinkler head looks like it's dying. I’m afraid it will require divine intervention to save me from a charge of first degree turficide by mid-June.

OK, so maybe I'm exaggerating — a little. This isn't turficide — this is lawnslaughter. What's happening to my lawn isn't pre-meditated. My intentions have been honorable. I tried to fix my sprinkling system. I have done the best I could. But so far, I have failed.

That happens to all of us occasionally, doesn't it?

No matter how hard we try, no matter how noble our objectives, sometimes our best efforts aren't good enough. Whether we lack the necessary skills or we come up against an obstacle that is simply more than we can handle, we all fall humanly short of perfection at times.

And that's OK. The way I see it, it isn't important that we succeed every time at everything we do. What's important is that we try, and that we give it our best shot. And if we fail … Well, we fail. We pick ourselves up (or, as I have been doing lately, we dry ourselves off) and we try again — or we try something else.

Failure is usually temporary. But the fear that keeps us from trying can be a permanent affliction — and fatal to our ultimate success. If we don't try, we don't give ourselves a chance to succeed. And not taking a chance is infinitely worse than taking a chance — and failing.

Now if you'll excuse me, I’ve got a sprinkler head to fix and a little patch of grass to save.

It's the return of the Unaplumber!

To read more by Joseph B. Walker, visit josephbwalker.com. Twitter: JoeWalkerSr

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