Tuesday, October 22, 2013

It's good to have a backup....

     I wasn't always this way, I was like every young person out there, flying by the seat of my pants, directionless sometimes, acting on impulse, trusting that it will all work out somehow, but then I changed, and it's tough to go back once you start using backups. 

     My wife laughs at me.  Well, not at those critical times, but she does laugh at me, especially about my backups, but you see, I need them.  There was a time when the notion of a backup seemed ludicrous to me, and I think I can recall the turning point.  I was assigned to work with an old timer at the pie company where I was employed, so early on a Tuesday am, I found myself pulling
into his garage in a small suburb of Cleveland.  He lived in a modest ranch house with a postage stamp size front lawn, and the backyard looked to be the same size.  As we pulled in, I looked up on the peg board wall and directly in front of me, hung at a 45 degree angle, was an old fashioned aluminum 3 bar sprinkler and just beneath it sat an identical one. I had just seen the size of the lawn so I immediately queried my companion in the car about the need for the 2nd sprinkler, and he said simply, "Well, you see,  you got your original sprinkler on top, and then below that, you got your backup sprinkler !" as if it was the most normal thing in the world to buy two of something when the immediate need would have been well covered by one and likely for a long time.  I shook my head and thought what an odd duck he was, and that thought stayed with me as we worked a few days together, and on my flight home, and right up until his system started working itself into my head.

     It was a few weeks after that when one of my toilets in the house broke and while attempting a repair I realized that I needed a ball flapper kit.  It was late enough that I wasn't going to drive the 20
minutes to the hardware store and hadn't I just had replaced one of these on another toilet a few weeks previous?  I turned off the water and got the expected comments from all the other residents of the house but as I settled back into my easy chair, the thought hit me that if I had only purchased two of them the last time, I could have had it fixed by now, but alas I did not have a backup. The next morning, however, I went to the hardware store and bought not one ball flapper kit, but one, plus a backup.  I was hooked.  From that point on, while making repairs I started stockpiling backups. If I needed a spark plug, I bought two, one screw became a handful, and little by little my garage began to look like the hardware store, but I had my backups.  My wife questioned, one time,  why I ordered 2 fog free shower mirrors, and my rationale was that wasn't I saving the $7 shipping by ordering 2 and if I replaced it once, wouldn't I need to do it again?  Oddly enough, the first one leaked like a sieve when I installed it and I haven't quite gotten around to replacing it with its backup (I think a part of me is afraid it will leak too, and my wife would be right in that I have no need of two leaky shower mirrors). 

     Soon my backup planning started working itself into other parts of my life.  I now rarely go out without throwing a backup shirt in the car.  Sound silly?  Have you ever gone to a party and immediately dripped something onto your shirt?  Had someone spill wine on you?  Noticed a stain
that you didn't see when you first put the shirt on?  I'm covered if this happens, and I know the shirt will match my pants.  Although I rarely have need of them, I started throwing a coat in the car, just in case.  This habit has backfired on me, you can read about it here (I could live vicariously through my lost jackets ).  Although I own a GPS and swap it up every few years, and my car has built in navigation, I regularly bring printed directions with me, as a backup.  I've noticed, in big cities, that the GPS's get funky around the tall buildings, so I just need to glance at my backup
copy, if that happens, to make sure I'm on track still.  On a trip a few months ago, one morning I found myself standing in the wrong borough in NYC because I didn't get my schedule in advance and that's where the GPS took me when I punched in the address I was given.  I lost a whole morning's work due to the lack of a backup.  My cell phone belt clip broke shortly thereafter and I had my wife order 2 replacements for me (of course she questioned it, I suspect she thought about my backup shower mirror as she did so).  Although the original clip lasted over a year, I ended up snagging the new one on a chair within a few weeks and have already started using the backup (Of course I did a victory lap when I got home from that trip proving to my wife how important my backups were).   I swap out my travel suitcases before I need to, and use the old one as a backup.  There's a shelf in my bathroom that has half a dozen of my travel sized shaving cream, deodorant, and toothpaste on it (They can be tough to find).  I own 2 solar chargers for camping for charging my phone and other electronics, there's a cabinet in my house full of backup coffee and blender carafes, some of which are kind of useless, since the base parts broke and I didn't back them up.  I may have to admit that I have a problem or have a garage sale like everyone else.

     Last week I heard my wife ordering a remote control helicopter for my son and I yelled up the
What's probably coming to the house today.
stairs that we could probably use a backup one but it was strangely quiet up there after I directed her.  Fed-ex should come today, and I'm hopeful that she's come on board with my plan.  It's time to post this blog now, but rest assured, if anything funky happens to it, or if it disappears off the Internet mysteriously, there is no need to panic, for you see, I've got a backup.  For the record though, I still own just one sprinkler, buying another one would just be weird, right? 


cdyarger said...

I still think he broke his phone clip "accidentally on purpose" just to prove his point. That phone is due to be replaced soon enough, so what are the chances the phone would outlast the clip? Oh and don't even get me started on the back-up blender that did not fit the base quite right!!! Or about his back-up for me (girlfriend - Stretch)! Ugh!!!

Brother Mike said...

You take after our father who always had spare tools and parts around. After he passed I inherited the old cooler box that sat on the tongue of the camper. It was filled with all sorts of spare parts for faucets, seats, O-rings, rubber and plastic washers etc. Included were approx. 500 pipe collars. Now I can understand having a few spares but there was no way he would ever have used all these. All the pipes in my house and in my apartments have collars and I still have a bunch left. I usually carry a spare for parts that would need to be fixed in emergencies - like a non-functioning toilet. I don't carry spare parts for anything that can wait a day to be fixed. I also don't have a spare for my wife - some things just can't be replaced.

Anonymous said...

While I think it is typical of young people to not think of backups, it certainly isn't true of everyone; for instance, I know for a fact that your oldest son backs up his computer once a week, carries a backup set of clothes in his car, and when he has an assignment due, he carries a flash drive with the assignment on it in two formats along with the physical copy. Then again, he also had the benefit of Boy Scouts, which as you well know teaches to "be prepared".