Fatigue: When things break
Updated: Dec 16, 2019
I went to start my snow blower after a few inches of snow had fallen at the start of this year's winter season and found the forward speed cable stuck in the slow position. I figured it was just in need of a little persuasion, so I gave it a little kick with my boot to nudge it along. SNAP! What? The forward speed cable dangled in the air. A closer inspection revealed that my "persuasion" put the metal part that tightened the belt and regulated the speed, past the point of fatigue and the metal would no longer hold up to that tap. I pushed it over the edge.
Fortunately, the part was easy to inspect, and figure out, though I am by no means a mechanic or even mechanically inclined. It was a simple matter to remove the part (it was fairly mild - only -5C , so my fingers did not go numb as quickly as they did on some other repairs in the mid -winter), put the fasteners back in place so I didn't lose anything, draw a quick sketch, snap a few photos to help myself remember what it all looked like, and to take the broken piece to the local repair shop to order a replacement.
Though it took over a week to get the part, and the cost was way beyond what I thought was a fair price for the piece I held in my hand, I was in no position to search for alternative sources of parts. It always happens that the sense of urgency forces us to pay beyond what we might normally pay for things if we had the luxury of time to explore other possibilities. Be that as it may, convenience has a price and I was willing to pay it, this time.
There are other benefits to going to the repair shop. For one thing, I get to poke around the show room and drool over all the new equipment I would love to get my hands on some time. I also get to listen in on other conversations and learn about the mechanical difficulties others have when they are forced to head to the repair shop.
Is there a lesson that could be applied to human beings, as well as to the parts of my aging snowblower? I think one lesson is that when we are tired, and worn out from years of use (or abuse) it doesn't take much to push us over the edge. Built up stress in the metal of a snowblower may not be visible to the naked eye, but it shows up under closer inspection. All the times I kicked that stuck lever to nudge it and "persuade" it took a toll. The metal grew weaker each time, until, this winter, it would take it no longer and broke.
People are like that. We can manage only so much in our lives before all the cracks become overwhelming and visible and we cease functioning well. We SNAP!
There is the lesson. We all need to be aware of how much stress we are carrying, and find ways to treat ourselves with kindness and find ways to maintain our own health and resilience. A little self-care goes along way in keeping us all in working condition! Don't wait until a sudden jolt pushes you beyond your breaking point. Give yourself a check up! Better an ounce of prevention than a costly repair ;)