16 February 2012

There's a trick to that - let me show you.....

Have you ever heard the words that are music to every tradeswoman's ears....

"There's a trick to that - let me show you."

Many years ago on the Saskatchewan prairie, (back when we walked 8 miles to Tims to get coffee in a snowstorm) I was installing a fuel pump in an army truck. It was a bit of a task, a real son of a b... to get off but I'd managed in spite of the cold. I cleaned up the area, put on a new gasket and slipped the arm into the hole.

But....it wouldn't go. It seemed that the arm was too long. I measured it against the old pump and they appeared to be the same. I was baffled - but being stubborn, I tried again and again. If you've ever looked at tradespeople they often make faces when they're concentrating hard and I have no doubt that I looked a little like Popeye at that moment. In those days, I would have stepped back, had a smoke and tried again. I suppose I thought that whatever was in the way would magically dissolve if I took a break.

My father taught me that every problem could be solved with a bigger hammer. I considered giving it a bit of a tap - maybe with the rubber mallet - surely it can't hurt.  But I knew better. I was baffled. I got my flashlight to looked into the hole. I couldn't see anything foreign just steel which was to be expected. I was perplexed - I had another smoke and adjusted myself. Leaning in over a fender produces wedgies now and again.

Being a typical tradeswoman and not wanting to admit that I couldn't do it, I decided it was a manufacturers defect in the new pump. Now I couldn't detect the defect but I knew it "instinctively" like we tend to when we don't know something. After all precision parts only need to be off by a hair to not fit. Right??

Then I heard it, those words that are music to your ears.

"There's a trick to that - let me show you." 

My buddy, my mentor, my hero was standing behind me with his weather beaten face and more patience than a saint. Move over he says with a chuckle and a wink. "I'll show ya."

My own little Macgyver - took a hacksaw blade out of my toolbox and bent it about 3 inches back from the end. He slipped it into the hole first and gave it a little jiggle. Then He put the fuel pump arm in under the blade and as it slid home, he pulled the blade out.

It was magical.

"Sometimes" says he, "the pushrod slips down when you take the pump out and you have to lift her up a bit to slide the arm in. Then he showed me the tapered edge on the arm that was designed with this in mind. I immediately regretted all my "intuition" about factory defects.

Me being me and glad that I didn't have to mess with it again said, "Wowwwwww, thanks dude and I gave him a hug."

And then he did the unthinkable......he pulled it all out and said the words of a great mentor and teacher,

"Now you try it."

Words to live by. "There's a trick to that." You know you've arrived when you hear those words.

Apprenticing is all about being included in the knowledge and the masters really do have the "tricks of the trade". As women we have not always been able to access that wisdom - wisdom that can only come about by doing instead of book learning. Some of us have been more fortunate than others. My sister and I have been very blessed. When we are asked about what we do to fit in, we always tell people,

"There's a trick to that, let me show you."