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Epic Fails

by

Paul Hord

phord@csisd.org



I recently took my kids fishing out at Lake Somerville (Texas) at Birch Creek State Park.  We were fishing on the pier next to the boat ramp.  With the fishing being slow, I found myself observing the other folks launching and loading their boats.  One guy was coming off the water and loading his boat onto his trailer.  His companion had backed the trailer down into the water.  Once the guy loaded the boat onto the trailer, his friend apparently forgot to get out of the truck to hook the boat to the trailer with the trailer wench.  The man in the truck hit the gas pedal to pull the boat up the ramp and the boat slid right off the trailer onto the ramp with a thunderous thud. 
What happened in the next few seconds was just shear entertainment for me.  The driver of the boat just sat there behind the wheel, looking a little stunned.  His silent reaction screamed, “What the hell just happened?”  His friend jumped out of the truck and looked at the boat sitting on the concrete boat ramp – he took off his hat and scratched his head.  Neither fella said anything for what seemed like an eternity.  I looked at my daughter and said, “You just witnessed an epic fail.”  She laughed.  With no fish being caught, we were thoroughly entertained for the next hour watching these guys find a way to get their boat back on the trailer.  As I watched this event unfold, I began to feel a little empathy for the guy driving the truck.  I’ve had my share of fails due to a lack of intelligence, common sense, or just a simple brain fart.  I’ve probably had more than the average Joe.

 

My earliest memory of a good fail was when I was four years old.  We had some problems with mice in our house and my parents had set up traditional mouse traps in selected places around the home, one of which was underneath our living room rocking chair.  My mom pointed out every trap to me and told me numerous times, “Don’t touch this!”  She even demonstrated to me what happens when something sets off a trap.  I sat there and watched the metal lever violently snap.  I was told several more times, “Never touch this!”  You would think that a four year old boy would understand that if I touch this, it will hurt me.  I guess some boys are just wired a little differently.  I vividly remember knowing that the trap was underneath the rocking chair and for whatever reason, I just couldn’t keep myself from putting my hand underneath the chair to see if there was a dead mouse.  There was no dead mouse and the trap snapped my finger.  I would categorize this as a “curious” fail.  One would think that maybe I had learned a lesson from this.  Many fails later would prove otherwise. 


Another that comes to mind was when I was about 11 or 12 years old.  I was fortunate enough at this age to grow up on a lake and have my own boat.  It was an aluminum boat with a small outboard motor.  We had a boathouse where we kept the boat docked and a storage shed where we kept belongings locked away, including the outboard motor.  Whenever I wanted to use my boat, I would unlock the shed to retrieve the motor and put it on the back of the boat.  Doing so required that I tighten the motor to the back of the boat.  Well, I forgot to do that one day.  The motor was sitting nicely on the back of the boat and I was cruising along just fine until I decided to make a sharp turn.  At that moment, the motor just flew off the back, still running, and promptly sank more than 80 feet to the bottom of the lake.  I remember just sitting there by myself, trying to process what had just happened.  I also remember trying to figure out how I was going to explain all of this to my dad.  My dad ended up paying a diver to retrieve the motor and all ended well.  I would call this a “forgetful” fail, many of which I have had. 


This is a scary one.  When I was 13 or 14 years old, I had an incredible fascination with guns.  My parents, unknowingly, must have felt that I was responsible enough to own a few.  It started off with a BB gun and then a 22 caliber rifle.  Not much later I was the new owner of a 12 gauge shotgun.  I proudly displayed my guns on a gunrack on one of the walls in my room.  I enjoyed cleaning and handling my guns, most likely in moments of boredom.  Sometimes I would load and unload my guns in my room (my parents weren’t fully aware of this).  Now, I knew that this was probably something that I shouldn’t be doing but I figured that I was not going to actually pull the trigger in the house so there should be no harm, right?  On one bored summer day, I was seeing how fast I could unload shotgun shells from my shotgun and I must have accidentally hit the trigger because a loud “BOOM” went off and I put a round into the baseboard of one of my walls.  It made a nice tidy hole into the shower of my bathroom.  Seconds after the round went off, my door slowly opened and my dad and I had what seemed like an eternal stare through the smoke rising to the ceiling.  This was not one of my finer moments.  Needless to say, my guns disappeared for a while.  I learned from this event, at least about gun safety, but not much more about future fails.  How I survived my childhood is an absolute miracle.  I am hoping that my soon to be teenage son has inherited his common sense from his mother and not me.  I would call this a “dumbass” fail. 


This is just a sampling of fails during my frontal lobe development.  I’m certain that we have all made some fairly stupid decisions as kids, even with the best intentions.  But fails do not stop when adolescence ends.  They happen to us as adults, and I just might be the poster boy for this.

 

Last summer my wife decided to buy a ping pong table for our kids.  I quickly learned that putting one of these together is quite the chore.  It’s really a two person job, but I’m a guy who thinks I can fix/do things on my own without any help.  I laid the top of the table on the floor of my garage and then began screwing all of the hardware for the legs into the bottom of the table.  When it came time to turn the table over, rather than asking for some help, I just figured out a way to turn it over myself.  And while doing so, all of the screws popped out of the table (made of particle board) and the hardware flew everywhere.  I just kind of sat there and stared at my mess for a while.  My wife came in the garage and asked what happened.  I did my best to explain and her reply was, “Why didn’t you just ask for help?”  Good question!  I was able to put Bondo in the screw holes of the table and then reattach all of the hardware.  This time I asked for some help flipping the table over.  I guess you could call this a “I can do it myself” fail. 


My most recent fail was a doozy.  This all started with
a couple of plumbing issues in our home.  One was shaking water pipes in the house when one of the showers was running and the other a leaky water heater.  The water heater scared me because my initial thought was that it was a goner and we would need a new one which is roughly an expense of around $1000.  I had a plumber come check out both.  The good news was that the water heater just needed a minor part which was covered under warranty.  The shaking pipes in the house required that a valve be replaced on the shower faucet in one of the restrooms.  We ordered the part for the water heater and then I went to Lowe’s and purchased the needed part for the tub.  I figured when I had the plumber come back out to repair the water heater, I would have him replace the valve that I purchased on the shower faucet.  Kill two birds with one stone, right?  When he got ready to replace the shower faucet valve, he informed me that I had purchased the wrong one.  He told me he could make a trip to the supply store to get the right part and then return to replace it.  So, not wanting to spend any more $$ than necessary on the plumbing call than I had to, I just asked him to show me how to replace it.  It seemed very simple.  He told me to make sure I turn off the water to the house and unscrew the faucet handle, then gently pull the valve out with a pair of pliers.  Seemed simple.  So, a couple of days later, I believe it was a Sunday afternoon, I returned the wrong part and got the right one.  I followed all of the directions that he gave me.  When I got to the part where I needed to remove the bad valve, it wouldn’t budge or come out for me.  Having forgotten the “gently remove” part of his instructions, I did what most guys would do when something won’t move that you are trying to move:  I got a hammer.  This didn’t end well.  I busted a metal pipe inside of the faucet.  Duct tape was not going to fix this.  It was a Sunday and we had no running water and we needed running water.  This didn’t go over well with my wife or my kids.  Right after having made my error, I sat outside and stared at the ground and asked myself, “Why did I just do that?”  The plumber came back the next morning and took care of my screwup.  We had running water 2 hours and $300 later.  This was a “costly” fail.


I could go on and on with more examples.  One would think that maturity, time, and experience would limit my fails.   One of my all-time favorite commercials is from sometime in the mid to late 1990s.  The advertisement was for Snickers.  There is an older gentleman inside the Kansas City Chiefs stadium painting “Chiefs” in each endzone.  When finished, he stands back to look at his work.  A player comes up to him and says, “Who are the Chefs?”.  The man pauses for a second and then says, “Great Googly Moogly.”  I love this commercial because I can obviously relate. 

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