We all do stupid things we wish we could erase. There – you are forgiven by me, even if you won’t forget or fully forgive yourself for stupid things you’ve done.
Almost four years ago I wrote a column inspired by the unorthodox television character MacGyver, about what he would do in various predicaments, drawing on farmers’ and my own experiences. Apparently the article struck a chord with readers, for many folks contacted me afterwards to relate their MacGyver experiences – both positive and negative.
“MacGyver-wouldn’t-do-incidents” deserve equal time, don’t you think? Several farmers, friends and I have endured a few “ahem” circumstances which I feel obligated to cite. Even MacGyver couldn’t have helped us.
Yep, more than once I stood behind a cow I was artificially inseminating or checking her pregnancy status when she sneezed and exploded on both ends. She covered my clothes in green excretions that I had to hose off before entering our house – but usually the cow was bred.
During my first year of farming almost four decades ago and while I changed the motor oil and oil filters in two tractors, my retired/farmer father watched from under a shade tree as we conversed pleasantly. Without paying attention to the labels on two 50-gallon drums of hydraulic fluid and SAE 30 motor oil I had nearby, I poured hydraulic fluid into the engine oil reservoirs of both tractors.
When I started the tractors and blue smoke gushed forth, Dad asked an intelligent question: “What oil did you use?”
You’ve figured out my answer and what I did next! Dad didn’t criticize me, but he laughed more than I thought was necessary. Time has partially healed my pride.
A few years ago a psychologist friend shared something embarrassing, which is why I’m not mentioning his identity. He and his wife entered a symphony concert about to begin in a darkened hall and were guided to their seats by an attendant.
As the couple scooted sideways toward their reserved seats in the middle of the section, my friend noticed he had left the fly on his trousers open. He concocted a plan to grab the zipper of his fly and to pull it upwards when he sat down, hoping no one would notice.
A young woman with long, draping hair who was seated directly in front of him shrieked as he sat down and her head yanked backwards. My chagrined friend couldn’t reopen his pants’ zipper, for it was stuck with hair; he had to request an attendant’s scissors and issue many apologies to untangle himself and the young lady.
A farmer friend who often has ribbed me about my un-MacGyver moments dared me to write about two highly questionable incidents in which he was involved. I’m pretty sure I helped him deal with whatever psychological trauma he had by listening several times to his recounts of the following:
Like many farmers, my friend always liked to have baling wire around. Since fewer farmers tie their hay bales with wire these days, he relied on the metal coat hangers used by dry-cleaning businesses to hang their cleaned and pressed clothing. I’ve used coat hangers a time or two myself to fix fences, tie gates and even to “witch” graves – but nothing like he uses coat hangers for.
My friend had a plugged toilet several years ago, for which he was responsible, if you know what I mean. Lacking a plunger, he bent a coat hanger, stuck it down the toilet and probed the wire hanger back and forth.
Not only was the stopped-up toilet material unmoved, but his intended solution also became unmovable, and nothing he did to pry it out was successful. His use of a coat hanger cost him $260 (and he had to dispose of the coat hanger afterwards).
Recently, my friend attacked the stuck garbage disposal in his kitchen sink with a coat hanger. You guessed it – the hanger he used got caught in the blades of the garbage disposal. The more he tried to untangle the mess, the more the wire coat hanger wrapped around the disposal blades. Very un-MacGyver-like.
(I’m not sorry, you have this coming!)
Another farm neighbor tried a few years ago to start his tractor on a cold winter day by having me tow it with my tractor while he sat in his cab and followed mine until we both were moving fast. Then he released the clutch, hoping the surge would start his tractor engine.
One problem: His tractor was a hydrostatic model. Most farmers know what happened, and I’ll say this much – the intended outcome didn’t occur. Like I said earlier, we all do stupid things.
Dear readers, you have stories that you may or may not want to share. Please send me anything you are willing to share with other folks … perhaps without your identity, if necessary.
The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of Farm World. Dr. Mike Rosmann is a psychologist and farmer in western Iowa, and has made more un-MacGyver mistakes than he admits. Readers may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org