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Steve Hansen: Did your education teach you how to fix a sprinkler?

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Posted: Thursday, January 25, 2018 10:21 am

RobbyÕs a pretty nice guy. Whenever I have a plumbing problem, I call him. After all, heÕs been in the business for 40 years, so who knows more?

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed a sprinkler valve was leaking. Perhaps a simple operation for some, but I prefer to use one who has handled a job like this hundreds of times.

Robby came out quickly and got the job done Ñ or so I thought.

ÒDonÕt turn on the main valve until the glue sets for a couple of days,Ó he warned.

I followed his advice. But on the second day, water was not only coming out of the sprinkler head when it was supposed to be off, but also was leaking around the replacement valve!

Needless to say, I called Robby and told him my diagnosis:

ÒIt must be a faulty replacement product,Ó I told him. ÒThis plastic stuff they make today is really junk.Ó

The plumber couldnÕt believe things had gone astray, but stated Òthings happenÓ (actually, he used a substitution for the word Òthings") and arrived at my house within an hour.

The gray-haired tradesman took one look and began to ask me questions off topic:

ÒSteve, did you take any shop classes in high school?Ó

ÒWell, no.Ó I replied ÒOne of my two high schools didnÕt have industrial arts. Besides, my parents insisted I only spend time in academics.Ó

He continued the inquiry: ÒHow about four years of college? Any basic mechanical engineering courses?Ó

ÒNo. It was all English literature and instrumental music. Oh, yes. Some vocal and theory work.Ó

ÒWhat about six years in the Army?Ó

ÒNo.Ó I sheepishly replied. ÒAll leadership courses and shuffling Pentagon papers.Ó

ÒHow about those years you spent in graduate school?Ó as he continued to press his case.

ÒJust head-shrinking classes,Ó I said.

ÒWell, how about those years studying law?Ó

Now IÕm really getting irritated. ÒAll they taught me was how to sue plumbers,Ó I curtly replied. ÒWhatÕs your point, anyway?Ó

With that remark, Robby walked over to the sprinkler value and turned a knob on top a few degrees clockwise. Suddenly, the sprinkler stopped, as well as the leakage.

ÒThatÕs my point,Ó he said. ÒThat will be $200 for the entire job. The price includes your senior and military discounts.Ó

I suddenly realized what he was saying. I had to admit that years of formal education never really taught me anything practical about surviving everyday living.

While the elites are telling every kid theyÕll never amount to anything without a college education, I just discovered the simplest problems in life cannot be solved with one.

So the next time your kid tells you they would like to learn something practical outside of Òorchestration,Ó Ògestalt therapy,Ó or Òcivil procedure,Ó you just might want to listen to what they have to say.

Steve Hansen is a Lodi writer.