#1,010- Improvise

My post today was going to be about being a good copilot on road trips, since I’m mid-road trip, but then the muffler on the other bus in our caravan fell off, and we had to make some moves.
For Christmas, my mom got me a bracelet from survivalstraps.com, and it’s a bracelet made from para cord in Boston College (go Eagles) colors, which you can take apart when or if you need fourteen feet of very strong cord for whatever the case may be. It was a bit small so I’d kept it on my hiking backpack, which I’ve got with me on this trip, so of course I thought, what better time than now to use the thing? Also we didn’t have many other options. Sure enough, ten minutes and a half dozen half hitches later (http://www.troop2nj.com/Documents%20&%20Uploads/Two_Half_Hitches.gif) and we are back on the road making good time.

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This week we were building houses in Tennessee while chaperoning 15 high school students. The big difference, too me at least, between the ones who were relatively mature, and the ones who had a lot of growing yet to do, was in their response to being given tasks. The less mature ones would, without thinking or attempting, ask you how to do whatever it was you asked them for, while the more mature ones would use some critical thinking to attempt to reason out a solution. Now, I wouldn’t say things like, ‘just build that porch real quick’, but instead, ‘hey, hand me that bucket of nails.’ This actually happened. I was up on the roof and I asked one of the boys to grab me the bucket of nails, and he picked it up but then just looked at me. ‘How?’ he asked. There was a ladder right in front of him.

The world is not perfect and sometimes, you’ve got to put a square peg in a round hole. That’s just the way it is. (See scene from Apollo 13 where they do just that). The porch that we did build, under the watchful eye of the site supervisor, settled in the freshly laid dirt around the house and one end ended up higher than the others and not level. So Willy (the spitting image of Andy Kapp), one of the Americorps workers, braced the deck crossbeams with some two by fours, then, took a circular saw (let me quickly explain how the deck was built- we sunk twelve by twelves at either end and in the middle of the deck as supports, the other side built into the house. Then you notch out a cut an inch and a half wide (since two by tens are actually only an inch and a half wide) by eight and a half inches high in the posts so you can sit your cross beams right on them and still have something to nail them to) and he made the depth of the blade an inch and a half. Next he sawed back and forth every eighth of an inch or so on the twelve by twelve. He did this for the whole height we needed to make up. Next, using a hammer and a flat bar as a chisel, we chipped away all the wood under the crossbeams which he’d weakened with the cuts. After that, he took a saw zall, and cut the nails between the cross beams and the posts. As soon as he cut the last nail, the only thing holding up the deck was the temporary two by fours, and when he knocked them off, the whole deck dropped perfectly into place, and I shit you not, the thing was dead level. Then we just pulled the nail heads and replaced them with new ones and you couldn’t even tell we’d screwed it up in the first place.

Think outside the box when necessary, do what’s practical when you can, and get it done, make it work, keep fucking trying. You’ll impress yourself with your creative solutions, and many times, get a cool story out of it.

Endeavor to persevere.

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