Saturday, July 9, 2011

MacGyver Was A Poor Kid...

I know that I haven't blogged in quite a while, but I had to share this entry with everyone.  Specifically because my mom has been hassling me to tell the story that it stems from.  It all began on the 4th of July...

When Nate and I got home that evening, I went to use the bathroom.  Much to my dismay, when I went to flush, nothing happened.  No worries, I thought, this has happened before.  Our toilet is pretty much a piece of junk, so I opened the tank to press the black lever down, which usually helps.  When I pull the lid off the tank, I realize we have a much more serious problem.  There is no water in our tank.

"Nate!"  I yelled.  When he came to the bathroom, I calmy and politely explained our quandry.  That's not exactly true, but it makes me sound better, so we'll leave it.

"Ya, we might need to call a plumber..." Nate said, after toying for a minute.  I nodded sadly.

"Wait..."  Nate said, wheels turning.  "I'll be right back!"

After a bit of rummaging, Nate emerged from the kitchen with an empty two-gallon Hawaiian Punch jug from the garbage.  He set it in the tub.

"Temporary fix," he said, walking out.

At that moment, people, I was baffled.  I'm a pretty smart girl...I got a 31 on my ACT, took classes like Calculus...but I had no idea how putting a Hawaiian Punch jug in our tub was going to remedy the fact that I had pooped in an unflushable toilet.

When Nate turned around and saw my confusion, he explained.  "You fill the jug with water from the tub, then you dump it into the tank, and then you pull the chain to flush."

My husband is a genius.  On top of that, he was a poor kid, so he has a skill set that rich people never learn.*  I may have had formal instruction in Calculus, but he had Ghetto Engineering from the School of Hard Knocks.

I'm going to go back briefly to my statement marked with the star.  I'm using the terms rich and poor in a very skewed sense.  I love the website ...Please go there.  For my purposes, poor means that you've paid in change at the gas pump, not that you're on the streets or starving.

Rich people offer suffer from a condition called Functional fixedness - An inability to perceive a new use for an object previously associated with some other purpose; adversely affects problem solving and creativity.

This isn't really a condition, but it is a psychological principle.  In my Psychology of Learning class in college, our instructor gave us five minutes to write all the uses for a paperclip.  No problem I thought.  Hold...paper...together... I wrote slowly.  I looked around.  About half the class was in deep thought, tapping their pens, but the other half were still writing away.  I admit that to my knowledge, they have not proved my hypothesis about the rich struggling more with functional fixedness, but it makes sense.

When I looked at the Hawaiian Punch jug, I saw a jug that had previously held Hawaiian Punch.  When Nate looked at it, he saw the same thing I saw, but also a portable toilet tank and who knows what else.

In writing this, I thought of the sermon Jesus gives in Luke 6:20-26 -

20 Looking at his disciples, he said:
   “Blessed are you who are poor,
   for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 Blessed are you who hunger now,
   for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now,
   for you will laugh.
22 Blessed are you when people hate you,
   when they exclude you and insult you
   and reject your name as evil,
      because of the Son of Man.
   23 “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.
   24 “But woe to you who are rich,
   for you have already received your comfort.
25 Woe to you who are well fed now,
   for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
   for you will mourn and weep.
26 Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,
   for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.

I read Luke 6:24 as "but woe to you who are rich, because you may never learn how to fix your own toilet."

This passage and my story does not necessarily have to mean poor in money.  Many people are poor or struggling or going without in other areas of their life, as well.  Going without or going through hardships makes you a better person.  It gives you empathy for others and it gives you skills to utilize.

In case anyone was wondering, Nate fixed our toilet Monday after watching a YouTube video on plumbing.  There ya go, folks.  Embrace your struggles and come out the other side with new skills, new compassion and new abilities!