Family

My Father and Problem Solving

Image by Supertrooper at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image by Supertrooper at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

One of the things I love about my father is that he is ingenious when it comes to fixing things. I used to think he could do literally everything in the world because he did everything for his business. He was an electrician, an HVAC man, a carpenter, and so much more. Plus, he owned the business and started it up from nothing. He is retired now, but he still get calls from people who were referred to him from previous customers. Yeah, he was that good.

When I was a kid, he helped teach me how to fix some things, mainly because I think he got tired of doing it all the time for me. A classic example would be how to install batteries in all of my toys and the importance of removing them before storing anything. No one wants a corroded battery!

My dad still fixes things for me, and he’s great at problem solving too. I love how he comes up with these amazing ideas to solve problems, whether it be how to hang a wind chime from the ceiling or creating a cat walk up to the window so my kitty could see outside. He just always seems to come up with a solution, and it’s usually more simple than my own idea.

I was reminded of this when I tried to take my bicycle out for a ride with my nieces. We bought it a garage sale a couple of summers ago. Though I have been riding it since then, I’ve had a hard time with turns because my knees tend to hit the handlebars, and I’ve almost fallen a couple of times because of it. To compensate, I started just extending my leg out instead of having them on the pedals when I turn. Of course, my foot sometimes scratches the ground, and I’m pretty sure that’s not how you’re supposed to turn.

The seat is also extremely uncomfortable. I usually end up standing the whole time, and something about how I was doing that was making my knees not so happy.

As I went to ride my bike today, he asked me if I wanted a comfier seat off one of the bikes he bought for my mom and him to ride. I figured why not since they don’t ride very often anyway and the one has a broken tire right now.

I’m pretty sure he thought it would all be a quick, simple solution to a problem. But with that one little tinker, we opened up Pandora’s box that set off a domino effect of more troubles. My knees started hitting the handlebars even more because the seat was higher up thanks to all that cushioning, so I asked him if we could buy new handlebars or if my brother could weld a new pole to make them go higher. We had already raised the handlebars to their full height back when I bought the bike.

He looked at my handlebars, and I knew the gears in his brain were turning. He grabbed a screwdriver and a few seconds later was rotating the handlebars. I thought he was nuts.

“How’s that?” he asked.

“I’m going to ride a bike with the brakes upside down?” I replied. It hadn’t dawned on me that you could move them too. It wasn’t one of my brighter moments.

I tested them as he rotated them until I finally found a position that had them up and away from my knees. He rotated the gears and the brakes to a spot that felt comfortable, and I took it for the first real test drive. It felt like it was a whole new bike. Best of all, I was able to turn like a normal person!

There was only one (OK two) more things to do: put more air in the tire and spray some WD-40 to help my gears shift better. However, the back tire of this bike has always had a crooked rubber pipe where you put the air in. It makes it hard to open it and use. Well, Dad decided enough was enough. He planned on fixing this bike up once and for good. He let out all the air in the tire and started working with the tube, only to discover it was all bunched up inside. That’s probably why my tire goes flat so often.

It took a while, but he finally managed to get it all done, though we had to remove the breaks because the wheel and tube kept getting stuck. I sprayed up the gears and chain, and I took my bike out onto the road with my nieces where we continued to ride until the rain sent us inside.

I would have never thought of rotating the handlebars like that. I thought I had to get a new set or a new bike or just come to terms with the fact that my bike would never be comfortable. Instead, the fix was right there in front of us; it just took the right set of eyes to notice it.

Image by 89studio at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image by 89studio at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So how does this relate to life? Every problem has a solution, and sometimes there are several possible solutions to choose from. We don’t always see every possibility though. It just goes to show that a little tinkering and a fresh pair of eyes can improve any situation. And, well, you know the old saying: two heads are better than one. I’m glad my dad sat down and helped me figure that out. It really does feel like I have a new bike, and I didn’t have to invest any more money into it either. Saving money is always a bonus!

Have you ever figured out a simple way of fixing a problem by just making some adjustments, or a time when someone helped you find a solution to a problem you had? Or even a moment where something simple ended up becoming far more complicated? I’d love to hear about it!

I hope you all have a lovely Father’s Day weekend!

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