Doing it wrong

Knowing ‘the right way’ to do things may not be as important as we once thought

Air rifle

I’m right-brained, and therefore creative.

I mean, if you give me a topic to write about, I’ll easily give you an essay.

But as is typical with we right-brainers, my left-brain sometimes seems brain dead.

I struggle with the simplest math problem.

And God forbid I ever try attempting “some assembly required” directions.

My good friend, Dale Hagfors, however, appears to have equal portions of right- and left-brain skills.

Dale writes exceptionally well.

He also flew Boeing-727 airliners as a Northwest Airlines pilot, and helicopters during his hitch with the U.S. Marine Corps.

Dale also can fix most anything that breaks:

Thirty years ago, I gave my dad an air rifle to protect his bird feeder from squirrels. He was then the age I am now, so I’m sure he threw away the directions and just used it as he saw fit. When he died 17 years later, I got the air rifle back. Since then, I’ve used it myself pretty much the same way he did. Then it quit working.

I’ve always been of the opinion that if I couldn’t fix something — at least by the time I was done with it — nobody else would be able to fix it either.

So I searched the Internet for information relating to the Benjamin-Sheridan C9 air rifle. I learned that this model of air rifle has a sealed air chamber that needs to be left in a lightly charged state between uses in order to protect its rubber O-rings from damage.

I’m certain my dad didn’t do that, and I know I didn’t.

Happily, I have the air rifle working like new again, and I’ll follow the proper sequence when putting it away. 

In fact, now that I’m doing it right, it just might last another 15 years. Then again, it already lasted twice that long with me doing it wrong.

Which brings up the notion of doing it right — versus doing it wrong — in LIFE.

I don’t care what it is that you’ve been doing, there are people who are going to tell you that you’ve been doing it the wrong way.

Parents, teachers and bosses have always provided this sort of guidance. 

Spouses, siblings, workmates and other marginally qualified acquaintances at times also have attempted to steer us into what they believed was a more proper course. (My most recent father-in-law would occasionally remind me that it wasn’t so important to know which was the right or wrong way, as long as I did it HIS way.)

In addition, support groups, self-help books and websites are available to anonymously to set us straight.

The real downside to all of this is I’m now too old to benefit from mending my ways. Whatever I discover now that I’ve been doing wrong is of little use.

I won’t live long enough for doing it right to make much of a difference, and I’m already cursed with the consequences of years of wrongness.


Thank you, Mr. Hagfors!                                  

Carol Hall lives in Woodbury. She’s a longtime freelance writer, a University of Minnesota graduate and a former Northwest Airlines stewardess. Send comments and questions to [email protected]