Sometimes we are able to summon untold strength to achieve something significant when faced with disaster, like a parent lifting a 3,000-pound car off a child. It was the day after my wife’s 30th birthday party when I first encountered this phenomenon.
The Story: To celebrate my wife’s milestone birthday, we hosted a party at our home with some of our closest friends and colleagues.
Living in the Pacific Northwest, many people ask their guests to remove their shoes. Actually this is so common it almost goes unsaid.
At this particular event, with so many people arriving at various times, we were not as vigilant as usual. Consequently, some guests wore their shoes. While this would not normally pose a problem, this was no ordinary day.
I have an innate sense of my surroundings, which is something I’ve come to realize most people don’t have. While this particular individual failed to notice the large hoard of shoes upon entering our home and that the majority of guests had only socks on their feet, she also failed to recognize something far more critical: the little rubber cap of her high heel shoe had worn so thin that the metal nail beneath protruded through.
It was around 1 a.m. when cleaning up after the party that I discovered little indentations all over my hardwood floors. There were hundreds of them: in the bathroom, the kitchen, the entry, the living room, the dining room…EVERYWHERE!
I would like to say I handled myself with composure, but the memories of that night are still saturated with the sense of panic that overcame me. After the veins in my head and neck returned to normal proportions; I recalled a story from my father, who you have been introduced to several times now. Nestled in that story lay the details of what I needed to do – iron the floor!
The Breakdown: Wood expands when wet. A needle is used to poke each indentation with several small holes so water can penetrate the floor’s finish and be absorbed into the wood. A damp towel covers the spot and serves to both protect the finish and act as a water delivery vehicle. An iron set to high is applied to the towel and generates copious amounts of steam, and the compressed wood begins to expand and lift. Through this process the dents can be effectively erased.
Professionally refinishing the floors would have forced me out of the house for a week and set me back $5,000 in labor. Clearly, that was not an acceptable option. Instead, all I would need to do is poke 1,200 holes with a sewing needle into the affected areas and iron 800 square feet of hardwood flooring.
As I squeezed the needle between my fingers and began tapping holes in the floor, time seemed to stand still. I somehow mustered Herculean endurance; and like a paleontologist on an excavation, I systematically worked my way through the grid: poking, steaming and ironing the floor.
The results – spectacular! The indentations were now virtually undetectable.
Sometimes we are faced with unusual problems that may have both conventional and unorthodox solutions. Traditional solutions always seem obvious because we are continuously exposed to advertisements for products and services that promise to solve any and all of our problems.
While just putting it on the credit card may seem easier, sometimes it pays to think outside the box.