"Hold the light still! No, not there, over here. Boy, can't you see what I'm trying to do?" the irritation in my Dad's voice oozes frustration. Sweat is dripping from his forehead as he squats down to get under the kitchen sink.
It is a typical Saturday morning of "helping" Dad do handyman work in one of his investment properties. If looks could kill I would have been dead long before we got to the hold the flashlight stage of the repairs.
Dad was never one to call a plumber or an electrician without at least giving the repair a try himself. When he did call someone for help, I never had the impression that the guy that showed up was really qualified for the job at hand, but they did work cheap.
Many of my weekends were spent with Dad at Scotty's Hardware or Skycraft Parts searching for a unique part for my Dad's also unique method of fixing a problem.
This weekend our challenge is to replace an InSinkErator. The space under the kitchen sink was cramped and it didn't look like the tenant had cleaned under the sink for months. Rusted out brillo pads, mostly empty dish soap containers and dried out sponges that would crumble when touched littered the floor next in the small kitchen.
My job today is to hold the flashlight and hand tools to my Dad as he lies cursing and sweating under the sink while removing the dysfunctional garbage disposal.
While the bang, bang, bang of the hammer against the flat head screwdriver echoed through the apartment, my mind drifted off to how my time could be better spent riding my bike back to home or swimming in my best friends pool.
"Son!" my Dad shouts startling me back to the task at hand. "Is that flashlight too heavy for you Nancy? Hold the light so I can see what I'm doing," he grumbles as wedges himself farther into the already tight space.
After what seemed several hours, the disposal drops down with a loud thud from its perch above Dad's head. Another streak of cursing and shouting at me to pull the "damn thing" off his arm, the broken disposal is finally extracted.
As he surveys the situation and alternates between rubbing his arm and his back, Dad announces "Done! We'll reconnect the pipes and call it a day."
"What about installing the new disposal?" I ask half hoping he will say he'll bring one of his "professionals" do complete the job.
"Not putting in a new one." He explains I've decided no more disposals in any of the apartments. The tenants put all kinds of grease and who knows what else down the disposal and damage the plumbing on down the line."
I didn't care why we weren't going to install a new disposal. I was glad this job was almost over for the day.
In looking back to those days I am grateful that my Dad took the time to teach me the basics of home repairs. It taught me several lessons about self-reliance, the value of a dollar and most importantly how to value my own time.
Today we are all pulled by more and more commitments. To our family, to our business, and to others in our community.
As an entrepreneur, my consideration now is between the how vs. the who. I still own the duplexes my Dad purchased back in the seventies. When there is something that needs repairs, thanks to the experience gained from working with my Dad, I know how to fix the problem but is that the best use of my time? Who could do the job faster and of better quality than I?
In regard to plumbing or most home repair or maintenance, I will procrastinate because I know what kind of a pain in the neck, the repair will be if I do it myself. If not tended to quickly the water leak or what have you will only get worse with time.
Initially, the do-it-yourself repair job will be cheaper in terms of cash coming out of my wallet. However, what is the opportunity cost? I could be building a relationship with a client, writing my newsletter, recording a podcast, spending time with my family. Doing the $1,000 per hour things instead of the $100 per hour things.
In essence, it boils down to time. We have all have the ability to make more money but the one thing we can't make more of is time.