Tempest, Meet Teacup

What is wrong with those imbeciles?”  The question echoed in my head as I labored to complete my task.  I was angry!  Why in the world couldn’t they anticipate that I would have had this problem when this guitar was being designed and built in that high-dollar factory, with its multi-million dollar machines for shaping the top and sides, the jigs for assembling and gluing the myriad pieces together, the plating process for producing the high-gloss finishes on all the metal components?  It wasn’t rocket science, after all!

What was this horrible design flaw that had evoked such an angry outburst?  Had they built the guitar with too short a scale, thus causing the instrument to play out of tune with itself, as well as any other accompanying musician?  No, the scale was perfect, the harmonics sounding clear and pure at each successive node; all producing the exact pitch anticipated.  That wasn’t it.  Perhaps, the structure was flawed, with a weak dovetail at the junction of the neck and body, causing a separation between the two components.  Again, no.  The structure was very satisfactory, with no imperfection to be found.  Then, was it the finish?  Had the factory technicians neglected to sand the sealer completely before applying the lacquer?  Were there horrendous imperfections in the surface of the instrument?  Again, the answer comes back.  No.

You see, I had spent an hour of my precious late-night time installing a pickup system in this guitar and I was to the last stage.  The holes had been successfully bored, the surfaces of the pickup and the bridge saddle matched exactly, all the adhesive pieces put into their respective locations.  The installation had been trouble free, but I was behind schedule if I was to have time to write for a few moments before heading to bed.  The final step of the job, installing the strings, was the simplest.  The new bronze strings would be laid out from the bridge to the tuning machines.  The little tapered pegs would push the ball-end of the string down through the bridge and then slip effortlessly over the metallic ball to lock it into place.  If the ball remained below the tip of the peg, it would certainly launch the plastic device like a missile across the room as the string was brought up to pitch.  Here was the essence of my problem.  This was the horrific design flaw over which I was angrily exclaiming.

As I struggled with each string, it was necessary to rotate the peg rapidly left and right, then left again, until it slipped over the ball-end of the string.  Why, I bet I spent an extra five seconds on each string, as it went on in its turn.  I griped the whole time.  Didn’t these jokers know that all it takes is a simple angle cut on the bottom of the peg to avoid this?  How much profit would it cost them to do that simple step?  What could it cost them; two seconds work, perhaps two cents a peg?  What short-sighted pencil pusher was insisting that they put these inferior pieces of junk in their guitar?  As I got more and more frustrated, I labored harder and harder at the process.  All of the sudden, a thought occurred to me!  What was I doing?  Why in the world was I struggling with this, when all it took was two seconds work to rectify the problem?  Taking a single-edged razor blade and cutting just the corner off of the lower edge on one side, the next peg was prepared before you could say “mountain” (or even “molehill”) and slipped easily over the ball-end of the string and it was done.  Sure, the better scenario would have been for the makers of this fine instrument to do the right thing in the first place.  That said, it was a huge waste of emotional energy and time for me to stubbornly do it the hard way just because they hadn’t foreseen my predicament.

Of course, you saw the solution all along, as I ranted and raved.  This is a frequent problem of mine…this over-reaction to miniscule issues.  There are times when I believe I’ve got it whipped.  I take pride in a small victory here or there; I may actually have been sensitive to my need to adapt just for once, and then something like this episode comes along to remind me of my propensity to go to pieces over nothing.  I’m guessing that we all do it though, in our own way.  “This is not my fault!”  You’ve said that, right? Or, how about, “It’s someone else’s responsibility”?  We justify our self-centered reaction by quoting our job description.  Never mind that the solution is within our ability, nor that the result will be the absence of the hassle and frustration of the ever-present issue.  Why not be a part of the solution?  We can “curse the darkness”, or we can “light a candle”.  Stubbornness chooses the former and stubs its toes stumbling around.  Wisdom always chooses the latter, and saves the pain and suffering for all within the light’s reach.

If some late night, you happen to be passing my shop and you see a wild character pacing the floor, and pulling his hair and shouting, don’t worry about me.  I’ll get it figured out eventually.  Just like the less-than-bright character in Tolkien’s epic books, I can see through a brick wall, given time.  Some of us are just slower at it than others.

“‘Then, I will do it myself,’ said the Little Red Hen.  And she did.”
(The Little Red Hen~American folk story)

“If you want a thing done well, do it yourself.”
(Anonymous)

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