I’ll never forget how kind and generous my grandfather was after my parents split up. The way I saw it, he didn’t judge and he didn’t take sides. I just remember him offering repeatedly to me and my Mom, “Let me know if you need help setting up the new place and if you need me to bring my drill.”
When I moved out on my own, he made the same offer, including the part about the drill. In some way, even though he couldn’t do anything about big changes going on in one’s life, I think that the offer of bringing his drill was his way of showing support, a way of helping through life’s big transitions.
His drill was a classic, and probably considered vintage by today’s standards. If I remember correctly, it was hefty. It seemed like it needed a bodybuilder to pilot this heavy machine with the stiff cord, needing an extension for home improvements taking place atop a ladder. But it did the job.
When I was given my first Black and Decker drill as a gift, it was a bittersweet moment. I felt a sense of independence in being able to take care of my own minor repair work, but I felt bad at the possibility of chipping away at my grandfather’s sense of purpose. Just the same, it was a giant leap in my own journey of “adulting”, and in developing my capacity to perform minor home repairs, without having to call a professional.
I did get some pretty good mileage with that first cordless drill, and was even able to pay it forward in helping to some of my neighbours in my apartment building with the occasional light duty drilling job. I am certain that my grandfather would have been proud. Continue reading
When I attended university 35 years ago, majoring in business administration, the book “In Search of Excellence” written by Tom Peters and Robert H. Waterman, Jr. was often referenced as a case study in best practices.
As a student in the 1980s, the book resonated with me. I was particularly in awe of the innovative concept of seeking input from clients and front line employees for simple yet effective ideas for enhancing the quality of products and services. The concept’s success was further demonstrated in the documentary movie that was making the rounds at that time.
“In Search of Excellence” was probably the book that inspired me most to pursue a career in business. Even as a young man, I was moved when a business (a store, a restaurant or a service) valued quality and worked a little harder to achieve it. This was (and still is) an important value for me and it appealed to me to think that a business career could revolve around the theme of quality.
But when the business world constantly hungers for a competitive edge, management principles are ever-evolving and replaced by new theories and best practices. And as a consumer, I am saddened that quality has been caught in the crossfire.
Some products don’t seem to last as long as they used to, despite the call to be more mindful of our use of landfills. Some stores are ghost towns, where it is impossible to find assistance when I need to ask questions or to get a product from a high shelf. And when I am able to find assistance, on some occasions I am given wrong directions or wrong answers.
I have also noticed some products I buy often getting cheapened by cutting corners on workmanship or incorporating cheaper materials. It is very disappointing. Continue reading
Filed under 50+, Inspiring
I think we can all agree that getting good value for money is something to which the majority of shoppers aspire. We all work so hard for our money (while our purchasing power seems to be dropping like a bag of wet cement), why wouldn’t we try to make our dollars go farther whether by waiting for sales, using coupons, hunting for deals or repairing goods to extend their life span.
I was reminded of the latter recently, in trying to breathe new life into an old flashlight. The flashlight and I have been through a lot together. It has always been there for me, dependable and reliable, having seen me through power failures, tripped breakers and burned light bulbs. It has also been my guiding light, helping me search for lost items in deep, dark, scary household crevices. Even though it stopped working, I was certain it still had a lot of life left in it.
The first order of business was to try replacing the massive 6 volt lantern battery. Easy enough, but even after stretches and warm-up exercises in preparation for hauling the beast of a battery home, unfortunately, the flashlight still didn’t work. The next step was to try to replace the teeny tiny little light bulb. What an ordeal!
Maybe it is because so many newer flashlights use LEDs as their light source, but this little light bulb of mine seems to be getting hard to find. After about 5 stores, I finally found some, so I bought enough to keep old faithful alive for another couple of decades.
But during my scavenger hunt, the prospect of having to throw out a perfectly good flashlight because of one broken part was heartbreaking, not to mention, illogical to me. Continue reading