Duct Tape and Super Glue

Posted on May 31, 2015

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I don’t endorse products in this column, other than ascriptions from Scripture occasionally, but I do have strong sentiments in other areas as well. One of them is a fondness for two of the modern world’s most useful inventions ever—duct tape and super glue.

You may have thought, “ah, he’s going to medical science, surely penicillin and all the wonder drugs,” or “computers,” or “rocketing to the moon,” or some other modern invention that has transformed our lives.

Just flying would be one of my favorites. My father was born in 1900, even before the Wright brothers took to the air and opened the era of flight. A lot has changed for sure.

Whole wars have been won or lost in the air, notwithstanding the current fascination with “boots on the ground.” It’s no longer horses and cannon, or swords and lances, but drones, satellites, and lasers.

Other modern marvels will surely occur to you, but how many of those do you really use?

On the other hand, many of us have a “fix it” gene, especially the guys.

I don’t know how long ago I discovered super glue and duct tape, but it must have been at some moment when something broke and I decided to fix it. Being a college professor, with a college professor’s budget, the fix it route was a good deal more affordable than the “it’s broke, let’s get a new one,” approach.

This last solution is intimately tied to commercialization in our country. Do we really need new models of cars each year? Of course not! Or a new computer or cell phone every two or three years?

Newer models of everything are supposed to be “new and improved,” but it has always gone against my grain to get rid of something that is working or running perfectly well. Obviously, my field wasn’t marketing or increasing profits.

Not long ago, the handle broke on our Swiffer. A Swiffer is the modern appliance that replaced the old mop. A Swiffer has a handle kind of shaped like a goose neck, and I think it is programmed to break every five or six months. When it breaks, you throw it away and go buy a new one for twenty or thirty bucks.

I looked at it. Duct tape immediately came to mind. I have duct tape everywhere. I keep a roll in my car, in my old aircraft, and at several hidden spots in my home where my wife and her housekeeper can’t find and pillage it for their own uses. It never returns to where it belongs.

I carefully duct taped the broken Swiffer handle, but it wasn’t quite right. I couldn’t get it tight enough and it would loosen and behave like a wet noodle rather than a nice new handle.

I remembered I had some new super glue I had just bought to fix a broken shelf on the door of my refrigerator. When I called GE a few weeks ago to get a new shelf to replace the one that had a crack, they eventually called me back and told me they didn’t stock those parts anymore.

“What!???” I exclaimed. You don’t stock parts to servicer YOUR appliances? The message was perfectly clear. Buy yourself a new one.

“You know what they want!” I shouted to my wife who happened to be in the stream of my complaint. “They want me to buy a $7000 new refrigerator!”

“No, they’re not that much. I checked them out a while back,” she said nonchalantly as if she just happened to be looking at refrigerators while at the Rite Aid or someplace last week.

A plot? I smelled a plot to get a new refrigerator and would have none of it. So next time I popped into The Home Depot to sniff around all the great things in there, I picked up some super glue.

I slapped a bit on the crack in the refrigerator shelf, held it together for a bit, and presto it worked! My wife wasn’t much impressed since she had her eye on something new, but super glue saved the (my) day.

So when the Swiffer handle went belly up as programmed by the builders of Swiffer handles, I got out my super glue. It took about five or six good squeezes to get the right amount of goop on the broken edges, a bit of pressure for forty or fifty seconds to hold them together, and we’re in business, Swiffering away happily.

My wife takes all this fixing with a jaundiced eye. She’s seen it all before. Eventually she will get the new refrigerator when something dramatic like the compressor fails.

Fix that with your super glue will be her smart aleck attitude as she heads off to the appliance store.

This OpEd published as “Duct Tape and Super Glue Are All You Need,” in The Tuscaloosa News, Sunday, May 31, 2015.

Posted in: Humor