Hey Ya’ll, it’s the ARM Dude here. Well it just happened again. My wife accused me of using something of hers in order to perform what she and my girls refer to as “one of my MacGyver repairs”. In this case, we were looking for an extension pole that she uses with her paint roller. She needed it so she could help my oldest daughter paint the bedroom for our newest granddaughter expected to arrive in late November. My bet is she threw it away while not paying attention. This is a game we have been playing for years because my wife is known to throw perfectly good items away while I am known for rescuing them from the trash in order to salvage any potentially useful items like nuts, bolts, switches, wheels or rollers, hinges, magnets, etc.

The MacGyver reference in the opening paragraph is one that has been with me ever since the original tv series aired. My family used to watch as MacGyver would take commonly found items to build some intricate contraption that would help him and others escape the situation that was being dealt with during that week’s episode. Immediately the comparisons started because over the years I have been challenged by family to fix items of all types. A common theme in these situations is one of them coming to me with a broken item and a sad look on their face. In most cases I will know immediately that replacement parts are not going to be available. Even so, I will study the item for a few moments before stating that I can fix it. Sometimes I will know how I am going to do the repair but most times I have no clue. The one thing I do know is that I committed to fixing it and this is when the fun begins.

I take the item down to my shop to begin the process of determining how I am going to fix it. The easiest repairs are those that can be accomplished using duct tape. I love this stuff while my wife loathes it because she thinks it looks ugly. I care more about the results it provides rather than how it looks. The more difficult repairs will result in me searching through all types of salvaged parts in order to find just the right items needed to accomplish my goal. Sometimes this also means heading to the local hardware store so that I can wander the aisles waiting for the perfect item or idea to jump out at me. I am not sure exactly what I am looking for but I will know it when I see it. Every now and then I will find the item I am searching for immediately. Other times it might take me hours to find the right combination of items to complete the repair. The reward for me is always the same. I get to see my wife or daughters smile when I return the repaired item to them. Granted it might have been cheaper to just buy a replacement when you look at the time invested in the repair but the return on this time invested makes it worthwhile to me.

Like most things in life there are exceptions. I firmly believe there is no room for a MacGyver mentality or approach when the item to be repaired involves something that provides safety or security for my family. For example, suppose my wife decides to take up biking because we have a lot of bicycle riders visit our area on the weekends. Now let’s imagine that I have an old bike that no longer has brakes because someone might have used the brake cable to fix the throttle lever on his lawnmower. It is not ok for me to clean the old bike up for her to use while solving the brake issue by duct taping some worn automotive brake pads to her shoes so that she can drag her feet until she stops. It would work and it would look really cool to watch the sparks fly when she is doing so. However the price I am sure to pay will be much greater than just purchasing a new bike along with the appropriate safety gear.

I know that I am not the only MacGyver wanna-be out there. I know more of you exist because I continue to see references to this character in current tv shows and commercials even though the last episode aired in 1992. I also know this because I have visited numerous businesses over the years where it was clear that a MacGyver type was either in charge or on staff. I say this because of the number of quick fixes, patches, and work arounds, including duct tape, that were implemented in order to keep the work flowing.

I would love to get your response to this article. Do you know any MacGyver types? Do you have examples to share? Did your company implement a MacGyver type solution? If so, please feel free to share with me and others by leaving a comment.