I was talking ‘car stuff’ with a guy I’ve gotten to know, Ralph. He’s operated his own auto specialty shop for many years. A midsize gent with bedraggled white hair, wise eyes and rough hands – that swallows your handshake – he’s a testimony to a lifetime of physical work… the consummate professional.
You can learn a lot from a guy like Ralph… the least of which is cars.
One day, I was telling him of an incident with my classic car that was being restored. Not long into the project the long-time body shop manager called to say that he’d never seen anything like it. Unlike most cars, mine is of fibreglass construction and his emailed pictures showed that the battery shelf had been previously repaired with wood, plastic glue and duct tape (the handy man’s friend). But, now, supported only by wooden splinters, the heavy battery was threatening to fall out.
Sarcastically, I suggested that they could have at least used rot-preventative, pressure treated, wood. (LOL) Yet, even though he laughed as well, Ralph brought me down a notch in an effort to better understand that poor people need to be resourceful. “Necessity is the mother of invention.”
Ralph said it’s not unusual to see Cuban youngsters running around with tools in hand… learning early how to keep cars running. No one can afford a broken-down ride; so, a temporary fix must suffice until a more permanent solution can be found – especially in the absence of American replacement parts. Still, you’ll see classic cars running the roads in Havana and everywhere else on the island, in support of tourism.
In other circumstances, it would be celebrated as ingenious. Who can forget the line in the movie Apollo 13, delivered by astronaut actor, Tom Hanks, when he calmly said, “Houston, we have a problem”. Suddenly, NASA’s super smart engineers had a lifesaving problem to solve, fast! Death laden CO2 fumes were filling the spaceship’s cabin. The solution? – duct tape. Duct tape? Yes! It worked!
Since then, duct tape has been stowed on every space mission.
“One thing a Southern boy will never say is, ‘I don’t think duct tape will fix it.”~ NASA Engineer Ed Smylie
Like duct tape, our Covid-19 lives may not look pretty, but for most of us, things could be worse. We’re all trying to peer into the future, when all we have to do is look to the past… how people overcame similar devastation of war and depression.
One take away is the relief of music. With music we can smile, sing and support each other. It soothes our souls, as duct tape fixes our outside. We honour our fallen by keeping going.
One of my aunts favorites:
“Oh, we ain’t got a barrel of money
Maybe we’re ragged and funny
But we’ll travel along, singin’ a song
Side by Side” ~ by Kay Starr
Music and duct tape – carry them both. That’s the way I figure it. Fred
First published at fredparry.ca
Guest Author Bio
Fred Parry lives in Southern Ontario. He is a lover of people and a collector of stories, music, wisdom, and grandchildren. His raison d’etre? “I’m one of those people who believe that if my work serves the common good, it will last; if not, it will die with me. As a freelancer – including ten years as a Torstar columnist – I still believe that’s true.” His book, ‘The Music In Me’ (2013) Friesen Press is also available via Indigo / Chapters.
Blog / Website: www.fredparry.ca