An older kid one time wanted to show me a trick. I thought he was nuts.
He took a bucket of water, started swinging it by his side, back and forth. And then – this was the nutty part - he swung the bucket 360 degrees and over his head. And the water remained in the bucket even though at the high point the bucket was upside down and right over the kid’s head. He didn’t get splashed.
Of course I wanted to try it. So the first chance I got, when I was by myself - I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of anybody, after all - I filled up a bucket. And I swung it back and forth. When I felt it was ready I swung it over my head.
No, it did work. Not a drop came raining down. The water remained lodged in the bucket even while it was over my head, though only briefly, thanks to centrifugal motion.
A lot of things go wrong when you’re a kid - enough things go wrong when you’re an adult. But that one kid’s trick worked like a charm. Over and over I tried it. I never got splashed. It worked. Amazing.
Years later, after I was back in the hometown, when the little TV satellite dishes first came out I tried to install one on the roof. I thought I must be nuts to try this.
To my chagrin I read in the instructions that the dish had to be pointed at just the right pinpoint in the sky. Oh great, I thought, how am I going to find this needle in a haystack?
After I got the dish bolted into the holes I drilled in the chimney - something else I had never done before – I took up and onto the roof the TV satellite receiver, a drop cord with multiple plug-ins for power and an old portable TV I never used much any more.
That must have been a sight for the neighborhood. (“Why’s that nut watching TV on his roof?”)
I carefully read the instructions for pointing the dish and started hunting for the sweet spot. Nothing. Black screen.
Quickly I was reduced to moving the dish randomly in what I thought was the general vicinity of the far-away satellite in the southwestern sky. Suddenly, bingo.
A clear picture and very loud audio flashed on the 12-inch TV screen. I tightened up the nuts and the contraption still worked. And it continued to work for years, without further problem (except during storms, which would knock out the TV signal).
One time the blower on my Honda went out. It was cold weather and I needed to do something, quick.
The car which I had bought from a friend was a foreign-made model, and it was hard at the time to get someone to work on it. Someone told me the blower was behind the glove compartment, and I should replace it myself. I thought he was nuts.
I was no mechanic, and my experience with working on cars had pretty much been confined to changing oil and tires.
So off I go to the junkyard in State Road for a new blower. Yes, they had another Honda and someone pulled out its blower for me.
Back home, I jumped inside and started trying to take off the glove compartment as my buddy had instructed. Dad looked on and kept mumbling something about I must be nuts.
There were all kinds of screws, any one of which might have been stuck and would have stopped my project in its tracks. The possibilities of screwing this up were numerous.
Suddenly off came the glove compartment, and what do you know but there was a blower just like the one I had picked up at the junkyard. I got to looking and I saw a wire and plug dangling from its bottom. I plugged it in, and sure enough I had heat again.
I don’t think Mr. Swift quite believed me when I told the story as I returned his blower.
Plenty of times things just won’t go right. Sometimes you can see the trouble coming, sometimes not. Murphy’s law.
But every once in a while, even when you’re braced for the worse, suddenly you catch some lightning in a bottle and you’re fabulously successful beyond your wildest dreams. You’re stunned.
Here’s hoping you catch one of those magic moments.
Stephen Harris returned home to live in State Road.