April 13, 2010

It’s been a good many years since I finished my U.S. Army mechanics training. One lesson has stayed with me well throughout the years.

It was delivered our final day as we received our certificates of completion and orders for our next assignments. Our senior training instructor advised us to look around the motor pool that had been our classroom and lab.

“Look at all the fancy tools you’ve been trained on…wrenches, sockets and screwdrivers of every size and style,” he said. “When you get to your motor pools, you’ll be lucky to find a crescent wrench and pliers.”

He was being honest, if more than a little cynical. He knew that in our motor pools, what hadn’t been lost, stolen or broken was what would be left for our use.  He was telling us that we would have to make do. The jeeps and tanks would still have to roll, whether or not we had a voltmeter to check a circuit.

The same is true in life. It would sure be nice if we always had what we wanted when it came time to do a job. What matters is what we do with what we have. 

That’s why long before I ever bought a set of sockets or wrenches, I invested in a crescent wrench and a pair of pliers. If I had to choose today, they would still be at the head of the list. I would rather make do than not be able to do at all.

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