Responsible parenting and leadership are a start. In between reaching for the sky (Toy Story rocks).

Screw the darkness. I prefer the lightness of Pop.

Monday, April 16, 2018

A Grateful Man

Seven thousand miles away from home, the left lens of my reading glasses fell out of their frame and onto the empty seat next to me. It’s the one side where the screw always comes loose over time opening and closing them after wearing and storing back in their case.

When I’m home, we have a tiny eyeglass screwdriver that does the trick every time to tighten them back up again. To date in all my work and family travels the past few years, I’ve never needed the tiny screwdriver away from home. Ever. Until this time.

Although I usually check them before I travel and tighten accordingly, I must've forgotten this time. There I was, on a flight back home to the United States from Istanbul, Turkey, and I take my reading glasses out of their case, and – flop. There goes the lens out of the frames onto the seat.

I mentally thanked the travel gods first and foremost since no one was sitting next to me. Who knows what would’ve happened if there was someone sitting there. Maybe the lens would have bounced off the person’s leg and onto the floor, tumbling into the aisle to then be crushed underfoot by an unaware passerby. Or, what if it fell to the ground and rolled under the seats behind me, or fell between the person’s legs next to me while they slept? Then what?

Well, thankfully all the other "whats" didn’t happen. Then I worried that the tiny screw that came loose had fallen out and been lost forever, but no, it was still intact in its chamber ready to be tightened yet again.

Phew.

However, there was one thing I was painfully aware of – I didn’t have the tiny screwdriver with me. Crap. Probably couldn't have taken it on the plane with me anyway.

What to do, what to do.

I had been on a business trip to Istanbul and also Sofia, Bulgaria. Such an amazing trip and I was quite thankful to have been invited to go so far away to speak at an event and run one of the candidate experience workshops I’m so passionate about doing. I always say that, while I don’t like being away from my family for too long, I do love to travel with them when we can, and for work, to see new places and meet new people. I thank the Mama (what I lovingly call my wife) for giving me that little bug.

And so, if it can’t be family travel, then work travel it is. While away on this trip, I learned more about St. Sofia, the Christian widow of Italian ancestry who lived in Rome during the Roman empire, and whose name means wisdom. She had three daughters whom she named after the three great virtues: Faith, Hope and Love. All of the things that remind me of my wife and our two girls, Beatrice and Bryce. The story of Sofia and her daughters is prominent in the history of both places I visited.

What I needed now was some inventive wisdom – how to fix my glasses so I didn’t lose the lens and/or the tiny screw – so it was time to channel my three great virtues. The Mama’s like Mcguyver, the 1980’s action hero who could defuse a bomb with a paper clip, a rubber band and a plastic butter knife; she can do all that and more with her eyes closed.

Our girls are also quite imaginative and resourceful when it comes to utilitarian creativity. Give them an empty cardboard box and shortly thereafter you’ll have a combination luxury leprechaun trap and condominium apartment (Bryce wanted to ensure creature comforts for the leprechaun), or a shelf elf candy extravaganza entertainment center (the latest of many #BhivePower shenanigans around the house).

Me, not as much. I mean, I can get the things done, and I can be creative, but I can also take the long way around to get there.

Not this time, though; I set my mind to solving the problem with what I had. I didn’t think that asking the flight crew for a tiny screwdriver would’ve been fruitful, or smart actually, so I first tore a piece of the flight menu made of thicker card stock, but thin enough to fit into the screw slot. It didn’t work, though – too flimsy to stay in the slot and turn the screw.

Then I started digging through my electronics bag in my backpack to see what I could come up with. There was nothing small and thin enough to do the trick.

Think, think, think.

Then I saw all the USB flash drives. I picked one up and turned it over and over. The metal that made up the plug portion could be pried open and bent, so I went to work. I broke some the plastic insides and got the outside metal sheath detached. There were small outcroppings of thin metal like tabs that could potentially be used like a flathead screwdriver, but unfortunately they were too big.

There was a second sheath of metal underneath the first and it had smaller and thinner tab outcroppings. I separated that from the plastic part of the flash drive. But then I noticed the four gold conductive filaments that ran parallel to each other over the end of the inner plastic plug portion that were also small enough and thin enough. Victory, I thought. I folded back the two inner rectangular filaments and tried to use the outside ones as makeshift screwdrivers, but alas, they were too flimsy and just kept bending when I tried to insert them.

Back to the mangled inner second metal sheath – magic time!

This piece had even smaller and thinner metal tabs that weren’t flimsy like the gold filaments. I carefully bent the piece without cutting myself to single out only one of the tabs that could be used as a tiny screwdriver. I worried that the flight crew might think I was making a tiny shiv, but no one paid any attention to me (which also worried me).

I was ready to test it out. I fitted the lens back into its frame, closed it tight and held on firmly. Then I fit I homemade screwdriver into the tiny screw slot and turned. Success. Then I turned again. And again. And again. Until once again the frame was tightened with the lens safely intact. It worked!

Right on!

I put everything away and settled into my seat to watch A Man Called Ove, the movie based on the wonderful heart-wrenching novel I read last year about a man reminded of how precious life truly is.

Then somewhere over the Northern Atlantic, a grateful man with tears in his eyes longs for his family and drifts off into fitful sleep. 

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