Last night, as I was driving home from Ed’s family’s house, I realized that my brakes just didn’t feel right. I had to push the brake pedal all the way to the floor in order to stop, which was a scary feeling. My dad has always told me that if something’s wrong with my car but it will still drive, drive it home. However, in this case I wasn’t worried about driving, I was worried about stopping. I contemplated trying to make it home with my car and after another pedal-to-the-floor stop, I decided to call Ed. We had both left at the same time, so he pulled over and switched with me. I drove his truck, and he slowly drove my car. He guessed that a brake line had blown, but decided to try to make it to the farm where there’s a vehicle lift so he could work on it. By the time we got to the farm, the brakes were gone. Ed drove very slowly and made it safely, thank goodness. In retrospect, we probably should have called a tow truck, but that’s not the point of the story.
My mom let me borrow her car today, and I’ll be going back to school for conferences tonight. While I’m at work, Ed and my brothers plan to work on my car. While I was driving home from school this afternoon, I thought about how lucky I am to have a husband and family with practical skills. I’ve taken it for granted, but it’s been this way my whole life. I remember when I was first driving joking with friends that I didn’t need “Triple A” because I had “Triple Al” (my dad) to come rescue me if anything went wrong. And it was true; whenever something was broken, my dad could always fix it. And around a farm, things break all the time! A typical project involves at least one thing breaking, and I remember my dad was (and is) always working on something. He calls the ability to figure out and fix problems “Yankee ingenuity.”
They say that girls marry someone like their dad, and in this case it’s true. Ed fixes my car when it’s broken. He builds furniture for our house. He can weld, do minor electrical work, hunt and fish, clean and butcher animals, fix motors of all kinds, and use Yankee ingenuity to solve just about any problem that comes along. I’m very lucky to have him around when things go wrong.
I lack these practical skills. My multiple college degrees don’t fix my car when it breaks and don’t build shelter for me. I started feeling kind of down on myself, since I lack these basic survival skills. Sure, I can do some pretty important stuff like grow and preserve food, sew, knit and crochet, and cook from scratch. But these are traditional women’s skills and I feel like they’re no big deal.
Really, though, we don’t need to have all of the skills to survive. Humans didn’t evolve to live in isolation. Part of why we’ve survived for so long is our ability to work together. There’s nothing wrong with depending on your loved ones, because working together is what it’s all about. I guess “group-sufficiency” is a better goal than self-sufficiency.
I wrote this whole post and then remembered that a microscope fell apart in school today. A student announced “It’s broken.” I looked at it, saw that a screw had fallen out, grabbed my screw driver and put it back together. I guess I’ve got some of that Yankee ingenuity, too.
Does your family share practical skills?