Wealth of Skill
GRIND: It can pay to sharpen skills

There are cars out there that park themselves.

I find that disturbing.

One reason is because they are bloody expensive.

They cost about P100,000 more than models of the same car you park yourself.

That may be part of the attraction, but even if I did care about status symbols, I still wouldn’t want one of those things.

That’s because I don’t want to rely on technology.

I’d much rather develop the skills required to drive and park a car… and I really would like other drivers to have them as well.

My worries, however, are not limited to selfish concerns about money, my health or the well being of my car’s bodywork.

I also believe that easy solutions, even expensive ones, tend to be less effective than ones that force us to refine our skills.

For example; tennis players can spend a fortune on the best racquets available but that won’t help their games nearly as much as practicing their strokes.

The same idea holds for other sports and hobbies.

I like to make bowls on a wood turning lathe and I could spend ridiculous amounts on top-quality chisels.

If I don’t have the skills to keep them sharp and use them properly, however, they will be far less effective than cheap tools in the hands of a skilled worker.

But what we do with our spare time and money is not of great concern.

The big problems come when our lack of skill or our decision to use equipment we can’t service ourselves lands us in dangerous situations and wastes money we need.

That’s what happened to a couple of engineers I met while I was working at Croc Camp back when Maun was a frontier town.

Before Walter and Willie shipped their 4×4 Jeep to southern Africa they replaced its simple engine with a state of the art BMW car engine from the factory where they worked in Germany.

They raved about the high-powered computerised engine the night they arrived but they didn’t realise the design was totally unsuitable for the wet muddy conditions in Moremi.

So, when they hit the first serious puddle, the computers crashed leaving them stranded for a day with some very dangerous animals.

They lived to tell the tale but they were a couple of unhappy campers after being towed back to Maun.

They also didn’t appreciate how expensive replacement parts would be or how long it would take for them to arrive from Germany.

During the next month, they downed quite a few Lions at the bar, but they never did get to see the real ones in the bush before they had to ship the vehicle home.

The interesting thing is, they would have had no problem learning all there was to know about a four-cylinder Jeep engine.

They just weren’t interested in going down that road because it was too low-tech.

So, in the end, the only roads they went down were the corrugated one back to Nata and then the ones that led to Durban.

And when they got there, they probably parked by themselves and slept in the Jeep because their fancy engine had burned up all their cash.

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