See a problem, fix a problem

Sam Casey

My dad recently visited campus to pick me up for an annual golf tournament we play in. As we walked to my room in the basement of Holden to pick up my bag, we entered on the Lowry side and passed through the double doors by the elevator that lead you to the Scheide side. The second door made the very loud squeaking sound that was familiar to me, but more like nails on a chalkboard for my dad. He asked how long the door made that sound. I shrugged and answered, “Forever.” As we walked past the custodial room, my dad peaked in and asked our wonderful custodian, Peggy, if she had any WD-40. They found an old can of something equivalent, poured the lost drops onto the hinges and voilà — no more squeaky door. As my dad walked back to where I was standing, he looked at me with a smirk on his face and said, “See a problem, fix a problem.”

My dad has many life philosophies — most of which are too weird or abstract to understand — but see a problem, fix a problem (henceforth, S/F) is one I have tried to follow throughout my life. It is a mindset I have brought to college because whether we like it our not, we are an intertwined community for four years and our actions have direct effects on the people we see every day. However, I’ve noticed in the two plus years I’ve been on campus that not everyone walks around with the S/F attitude. I’ll give an example:

We all know that the printers are not always functional, and something can go wrong fairly frequently. However, if you look on the printer screen, it will usually say what the issue is and how to fix it with both written and visual directions. I find myself approximately once a week stumbling upon a printer in this state and follow the directions to fix it to make everyone’s lives easier (it’s usually something very easy, like a jammed piece of paper that can be pulled out). Maybe it’s a coincidence and I happen to always get to the printer first, but my guess is that’s not the case. Instead of S/F, my peers will see a problem, and walk away.

Hey, maybe I’m being unfair; I can’t assume everyone is a technology aficionado, right? Fair enough, here’s another example: I was walking from my room to Lowry last Saturday morning and saw a brown paper bag lying in the grass. I would’ve picked it up, but I was running late for something, so I kept walking thinking someone would pick it up soon anyways. I went about my day and passed that same patch of grass later that night and noticed the bag was still there. What the hell, I thought, so many people passed by and no one picked it up? So I picked it up and put it in the next trash can I saw. S/F in action and it didn’t take much effort.

I’m not saying that every problem you see can be fixed. There are also much larger problems in the world that deserve our focus. Some of the same people who ignored the printer or walked past the bag probably participated in last week’s climate strike, which is S/F on a much larger, more important scale. Kudos to you! But if you spill your beer at Covers, tell someone or grab a mop. If you notice a washing machine isn’t working, fill out a work order or email your RA. And for god’s sake, if you see someone about to throw up at Mom’s, get them the fuck out.

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