The ‘Slippery Slope’
Getting a patio umbrella home seems like a pretty simple thing to do on the face of things. The clear question from the uninitiated is, “Well – How hard can it be?” I have to believe that a good many people have been led to their downfall by asking this very question. If you have to ask, then look out; you’re going to find out! You’re teetering at the top of the proverbial slippery slope.
How can something so simple be so hard?
The person who coined the phrase, “Trial and error,” was a brilliant observer of human experience. When you succeed at something then you get to stop trying after all. The expression, “You always find what you want in the last place you look,” is another example of the same idea. It’s easy to overlook the energy needed to achieve a good result. You would make yourself look silly if you started calling your efforts “Trial and success!”
Beginner’s luck is not unusual, but it highlights someone who achieves success without a proper understanding of what they have done. This really isn’t much of an issue for things that one expects to do only once in a lifetime. It is a problem for those things that you will have to master to be able to repeat again. You need to know what you are doing to achieve consistency.
Do it right the first time!
I remember working for an executive who was fond of using this expression. He was talking to trained engineers, and what he actually meant to say was, “Do it right the next time.” He wanted to reduce mistakes by people he felt needed an admonition to be more careful in their work. Trial and error, when properly understood as a practical approach to achievement, tells us that the very first attempt at something is likely to go badly.
You have to get things wrong in the beginning in order to get them right later on.
So how many patio umbrellas do we ever carry around in our cars? Not many, I’ll wager. Here is my first attempt to carry one.
I put the umbrella in through the sun roof because it would fit that way. My daughter is helping me, but she’s mortified. She said, “I can’t believe that my Dad is still able to embarrass me at my age!” I got the umbrella in my car all right. It wouldn’t be safe to drive, however. Trial and error, for sure!
Simplify the problem
A worthwhile strategy is to find a way to make the problem simpler to tackle. Another common expression asks for the proper way to eat an elephant. An answer you might expect to hear in motivational speeches is to find a place to start and then persistently gnaw away at the problem until it is gone. Things are easier and they go faster when you have a team of people working together on different parts of the problem at the same time. Fortunately, a patio umbrella isn’t such a big deal!
I removed the bottom pole to make the umbrella much shorter overall. It’s still too long if I can’t put the back seat of my car down to get it out of the way.
A brand new umbrella still in its original box would not have its bottom pole attached to reduce shipping costs.
So how do you get 10 pounds of umbrella into a 5 pound car?
This photo shows a much better way to safely get an umbrella home.
I reclined the back of the passenger seat far enough to make room for the umbrella box. Then I put the box in the car through the passenger side door. The box runs from the foot well in the front and over the seat into the back. This simple solution looks obvious in hindsight, but sometimes the obvious is the hardest thing to find when you’re starting out.
Success at last
There you have it. A large patio umbrella carried in an ordinary car. I should let you know that umbrellas over 11′ in diameter and cantilever models, the ones with poles on the side instead of in the middle, are unlikely to fit in a car at all.