One of my staff had ordered a television cart that needed to be assembled. When it arrived, the package looked like it had airmailed and dropped from about 1000 feet. There was not a square inch of packaging that we not either ripped or dented. It was the most pitiful package I had ever seen.
Being the boss and treating all employees as if they are brain damaged, I instructed him to check everything over for damage. He gave me the look that I deserved and went back to work. In a few minutes he reported that everything seemed okay except for one thing – there were no instructions. No instructions? Really? A guy noticed there weren’t any instructions? What is that all about? Everyone knows real men don’t read instructions. We don’t NEED instructions. We don’t TAKE instructions.
I’m not saying that is a good thing – a positive. It is just a fact. We men don’t ask for directions, either. Directions just get in the way and slow things down. I don’t want to stop and think; I want to get to work and get things done. As Larry the Cable Guy says, we like to “Get ‘er done.” Instructions and directions are for the weak… the slow… the confused and most of the time the more intelligent.
I’m not as bad about not reading instructions as some of my male friends. Gary Lawrence was the most in a hurry guy I ever met. I called him “Mr. Do-It-Yesterday.” Though I don’t care to dawdle, I can’t hold a candle to him. Gary did many things without reading the instructions. Like gutting an old house and rebuilding it: including the wiring, plumbing, insulation, interior walls, windows, roof and siding. I helped him build a fireplace sans instructions. We installed car radios. Things like the great piano move were not a daily occurrence but they were pretty common.
Ah, the Great Piano Move. We owned an old upright piano that we didn’t use. The whole family took turns talking about taking piano lessons, but none of us ever did. I almost forced my children to take lessons but then I remembered what a debacle my childhood piano lessons were. I took them from a retired music teacher. As hard as this might be to believe, I was not a stellar student. I can’t remember ever practicing, thus I made little progress. In fact, after just one year of lessons my teacher moved away. Reflecting on that move, as an adult, I realized she probably moved just to get out of teaching me another year. The poor woman was retired, settled in her home, comfortable and now I had forced her to move away from all that was familiar. How sad. I couldn’t do that to another sweet old lady.
Thus, our old, dusty, stained, unused piano was up for grabs. Susan, Gary’s wife, decided she could put it to use. Gary showed up at my house with a borrowed pickup truck, we recruited Tom Bowden (A short, muscular stump of a man.) and loaded up that old piano. I suggested that we tie the piano down since it was on rollers. Gary reckoned that, since it was a relatively short trip to his house and since he was in a hurry (As usual, thus the nickname Mr. Doityesterday.) we would just load it up and have Tom ride in the back and he could hold it in place. Tom didn’t say anything but it was obvious from the look on his face that he was not enthused with the idea. But since it was Gary’s truck and it was now his piano we followed Gary’s plan.
Off we went. Because I had my doubts about the wisdom of the plan, I kept an eye on Tom and the piano in the rear view mirror. Things went surprisingly well – until. Until we made the turn onto the road Gary’s house was on. And then things went surprisingly badly. Being Gary, he took the turn a little too fast. The piano began to roll. Tom made a quick decision. He decided that his life was more important than the Lawrence’s getting a new used piano. Instead of holding on to the piano, Tom started dodging the rolling 700-pound weapon of death. The piano rolled to the rear of the truck, struck the right rear panel and became airborne. In slow motion, it flew out of the truck, flipped twice in the air and landed solidly on one side and bounced about five feet into the air. The next impact was on a corner of the top. Upon impact the piano exploded. I don’t mean it broke; I mean it exploded. It was amazing. Piano parts scattered over the road. I had no idea there were so many parts to a piano.
Watching Tom, who was supposed to be holding the piano in place, run for his life, was worth the trip. The piano went one way and he went the other. The piano shifted direction and Tom dove the other way. He was wide and wild-eyed as he worked at not being crushed by the piano. He was weak-kneed and more than I little miffed when he dismounted the truck.
As Gary and I crawled out of the truck and surveyed the damage, the first thing out of Gary’s mouth was, “You have to tell Susan.” I didn’t fault him for being afraid to tell Susan. Me too. But I was a friend and much less likely to have incurred her wrath. After a quick trip to the dump, we arrived at the Lawrence residence. I walked in alone carrying a chunk of the piano, found Susan in the kitchen, laid the wooden piece on the kitchen and announced, “Here is your piano.” She was neither pleased nor amused. I is my understanding that Gary suffered through a very difficult week.
All of the men involved in the Great Piano Move learned several lessons. But one we failed to learn was to read the directions first. Real men don’t read directions or learn new lessons quickly.
Copyright © 2017, William T. McConnell, All Rights Reserved
Bill McConnell is the Interim Minister at Norwood Christian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is a Church Transformation consultant and a Christian Leadership Coach. He is a frequent speaker at Church Transformation events. His latest book on church transformation is DEVELOPING A SIGNIFICANT CHURCH and is available at Westbow Press.