I will always remember one story my father told us one evening as we sat around and listened to yet another of his tales. The thing with my father was that no matter how many stories he told us of his experiences as a garage door repair man, they never got boring.
On this occasion he had been called to look at a garage door which was giving its owner some trouble – often sticking, sometimes not opening at all – and the owner said he had checked everything and had already carried out some repairs himself to keep the thing going. My father, Jack Newman, didn’t quite know what to expect when he arrived at the property out on the edge of town.
He was met by an enthusiastic middle-aged gentleman who thanked my father profusely for coming at such short notice. The truth was that my father would always try to get to each job as soon as possible because in addition to enjoying his work of repairing garage doors, he actually got most pleasure from helping people and seeing them happy.
The temporary fix for the tracks and wheels, chain, and cables.
The gentleman showed him to the garage and started to explain the problem in great detail, and surprised my father with the depth of his knowledge. He explained about the torsion springs, he talked about the guide tracks and the cables and he also showed my father what he had done to temporarily fix the problem he was having.
As my father could see, due to the slightly unusual configuration of this garage door, which was due to a strangely shaped garage roof, the tracks guiding the overhead door into the garage had been customized slightly to accommodate the roof shape. This had been OK and had obviously worked for quite a long time, but he could see also that the chain and cable arrangement which drove the door along the tracks had been modified as well, and that this was where the problem had now developed.
What my father also noticed was that the gentlemen had carried out a repair involving a complex series of wheels and rollers which provided the door chain and cables with guidance as it moved into the garage. My father thought this was quite an ingenious solution to this particular problem and was one that he surely wouldn’t have come up with. He probably would have replaced the whole runner system which would have been expensive and a very large job.
This gentleman had shown my father that there was often more than one solution to any problem if we take the time to think ‘laterally’ and consider other approaches, something my father thought about a lot from that point on. He carried out some small adjustments to the home made mechanism and gave the door a general service by lubricating the springs, tracks, and wheels, which ensured everything was running smoothly.
He thanked the gentleman for sharing his knowledge and wished him a good day as he packed up his tools and started the drive home, thinking about how much he loved meeting interesting people and how much we can learn from each other if we take the time to listen. The man had showed him that the first and most obvious answer to any problem is not necessarily the best option, and that can apply to many things in life too. Sometimes we need to step back, take a fresh look from a different angle and just think a little bit more before we act.