• D. Randall Faro

Plywood Coasters

Confucius said: “Life is really simple but we insist on making it complicated.” He could have also said that life can be really easy but we insist on making it hard. “There seems to be some perverse human characteristic that likes to make easy things difficult,” adds Warren Buffett


When people ask for a website Uniform Resource Locator (URL), almost everybody will say, “double-u, double-u, double-u, dot whatever.” www stands for World Wide Web – which is three syllables. Instead, we say the “double-u, double-u etc.” which is nine syllables. Why do we use the nine when we could use the three?


Take the Swiss army knife model 16999. It packs 141 functions into 87 implements which includes, among other things, a nail cleaner, cigar cutter, telescopic pointer, fish scaler, Fiber optic tool holder, toothpick, and a compass. Look at the picture accompanying this post. One Amazon reviewer wrote: “Only shame is that the unicorn toothbrush does not operate properly when used at the same time with the parachute.” I have a difficult time imagining using this monstrously complicated and unwieldly agglomeration. One each of the 87 integrated tools on their own would be so much simpler.


A man who is not a plumber had a plumbing problem. In an attempt to fix it he spent two hours online researching, three hours going to six different stores looking for the correct parts, an hour and a half attempting the fix only to discover he had purchased the wrong parts, another hour finding the right store with the right part, and finally another hour installing the purchased parts. The result was a worse leak than the one that began the eight and a half hour attempted repair. He ended up spending fifteen minutes locating an available plumber . . . who arrived within a half hour and fixed the problem in forty-five minutes.


Simple or complicated. Easy or hard. To be sure, there are things beyond our ken or control. Complicated things we cannot simplify; hard things we cannot make easier. But more often than we tend to recognize, we can choose the simpler or the easier. Scads have been written on why we often go for the more difficult or more complicated option. Point: look first to see if the easier, the less complicated is the answer.


This morning a repairman told me it would be helpful to have furniture coasters underneath the power recliner which he had just fixed. After he left, I jumped in the car and sped to Ace Hardware. They didn’t have what I needed so I sped five miles distant to Home Depot. After roaming the store for about five hours (figuratively), I came upon the hidden coasters . . . about eighteen options from the el cheapo $3 ones to the gold-medal ones at a zillion dollars. As I pondered which color, shape, size, and price to purchase, a light came on. (In my head.) I denied the Depot my purchase and sped home to my valued stack of plywood cutoffs. Beckoning to me was a five-inches-wide, twenty-four-inches-long cutoff which I promptly sawed into four five-by-five wooden furniture coasters. They fit far enough underneath the chair unseen so that nobody can chuckle at my Rube Goldberg solution. They work. It was simply, easy.


Another lesson learned along life’s hard, complicated way.


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