Refrigerator Lessons

This morning a repairman came to fix my refrigerator and told me an amazing story about running into an old buddy from college that had some important lessons in it.

Apparently this friend of his had an amazing life after leaving the dorms back in the 1980’s. He began working for a company that was beginning to build a computer center in their office and needed a computer tech to run it. Like many of us back then, this guy had zero experience, zero knowledge, and zero education with computers, but he was determined, driven to take initiative, and had a wonderful, caring heart with high standards to boot.

When the first round of interviews came, he threw his hat into the ring and was invited to partake in the hiring event that included around 100 candidates. The first thing he did was go to the mall and purchase a new suit because he wanted to look his very best and put his right foot forward. The interview went well, and he was invited back for the next round, so he went out and bought another new suit. Looking sharp, he aced the next round as well and was invited back for the final round of interviews where he was nervously competing with two other anxious candidates. Of course he went out and bought a third suit and went to the interview. As he was sitting there answering a string of questions, the interviewer looked at him and pointed out that he forgot to take the price tag off his jacket sleeve. As he laughed in embarrassment, she recognized his familiar smile and asked if several years earlier he happened to have worked in a particular high school kitchen. Shocked, he said, “Yes. As a matter of fact I did!” The interviewer then smiled and said, “I remember you. You used to make the juice and biscuits extra special for us!” Apparently when the head cook in the kitchen was trying to cut corners by telling the team to only serve one biscuit and only put half the sugar in the orange juice, this guy refused and did it the right way for the kids saying, “If I’m going to do this, I’m doing it the way it is supposed to be done.” The students loved him for it!

Needless to say, he got the job but this is only half the story. Once he started the new job working in the computer room, he was immediately overwhelmed. He had no knowledge or skill to do the job but he tried his best. He hated not knowing things and it upset him that he was struggling from his lack of knowledge. One thing he noticed however was the shelf of computer books that lined the room. He began picking them up one at a time and read them cover-to-cover to solve issues himself as they popped up. One after another, he devoured the books in his downtime, during lunch and in the evenings after work until he learned all there was to know about the new computers. He didn’t let the challenge defeat him, but instead took the initiative to build his own knowledge base until he became the expert, the go-to guy, for all of the questions computer related in his company. When my refrigerator repairman bumped into him 30 years later he said that he now traveled the country, wearing all of his suits, speaking and training on computer-related topics and was doing very well!

As we go through our lives we encounter many trials. (Like a fridge that doesn’t work) We get bumps and bruises, roadblocks derail us, and even our very confidence gets tested from time to time. Let’s take the lessons shared by my repairman to heart and keep moving forward toward our dreams:

  1. Do the right thing. Even if it costs more to do so.

  2. Prepare yourself, put your best foot forward.

  3. If you don’t know something. Learn it. Don’t wait for others to teach it to you.

Three simple principles to practice and inspire in others.

I’m actually glad my fridge broke down…well, I’m more glad that it got fixed!

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