Dad Predicted End of World

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I’ll admit it. The idea that our dad predicted the end of the world some sixty years ago would be a stretch for even the most avid reader of this column — unless I have some indisputable facts to back up that proclamation — which, of course, I do. He made this prediction a long, long time ago, on that old familiar street not so far away.

During those seven years we spent growing up on Flamingo, our dad had many words of wisdom that I remember even to this very day. Here are but a few:

“Never start a fight, but if you have to fight, always fight to win.”

“If you play a game, there’s always a winner and a loser.”

“Losing teaches you two things. First, you learn what you did wrong (or need to work on) so you’ll do better next time. Second, you learn that winning feels a whole lot better than losing.”

“Be friends with the person no one wants to be friends with. That’s the kid who really needs a friend.”

“A good person always does what’s right, especially when no one is looking.”

“Everyone makes mistakes. Mistakes are the reason why erasers are placed on the end of pencils. Admit your mistake and then move on — not everyone does so.”

I could continue filling this entire column up with Dad’s words of wisdom, but doing so won’t get us to the matter at hand: the impending end of the world thing. Just keep reading, we still have a little time left. (At least, I think we do.)

Not only did Dad teach us people skills, but he also taught us how to fix things when they were broken. He had two simple fixes for everything, the same I still use to this very day. “If it squeaks, use WD-40. If it’s broken, use duct tape.

The first time I heard this statement from Dad, I was only seven years old. I remember it well because that was also when Dad predicted not only how, but when the end of the world would happen.

The prediction

“If it can’t be fixed using WD-40 or duct tape, then it’ll be the end of the world soon.” Dad laughed, “Everything will slowly grind to a halt, get stuck and break. Then the entire world will fall apart.”

I didn’t understand. To the seven-year-old me, the end of the world was no laughing matter. To the adult me, it still isn’t. But now I know Dad’s prediction about the ending of all things was his way of saying that if it can’t be fixed using WD-40 or duct tape, then it can’t be fixed and it’s time to buy a new one. This now brings us to the real reason for this story.

Honey, I broke the Internet

One person breaking the Internet is another outlandish statement, but also one that I can back up with facts. While trimming bushes early in the morning when they’re still wet from the overnight rainstorms, three important things you need to remember.

First — before you start, beat all bushes with a long extension pole to check for hidden wasps or hornets. Second (but really first before the first step just mentioned above) make sure you have a can of foaming wasp and hornet spray at the ready.

Second, but really third, make sure you know where the Internet cable is, especially if you’ve asked the nice folks over at the phone company four times over the last two years to bury it but it’s still lying on top of the ground next to the overgrown bushes that are about to be trimmed.

And finally, if using electric hedge clippers, it’s very important to know where the heavy-duty bright orange extension cord is at all times so not to mistake it as part of the bush and cut right through it. (I know that’s really four things, but I’ve got a good excuse. I’m still suffering from the shock I received yesterday from cutting through said extension cord.)

It took about ten minutes for the feeling finally to return to my arm after the shock from cutting the extension cord. That’s when I discovered the Internet cable to the house had, mysteriously, also been cut. (And yes, that’s what I told the phone company.)

Retrieving WD-40 and duct tape from the garage, I immediately set forth splicing and taping the “cable” back together.

Reader’s Question: When is a cable not a cable?

Answer: When the “cable” isn’t actually a cable at all.

After close examination of the slice, I found no wire. Instead, lying on the ground around where the cable was cut, were small fragments of what looked like glass. Why there was glass where a wire should be, I had no idea, so I called the friendly folks over at the phone company. They should know why their cable doesn’t have a wire in it and how I can repair it. After all, they have lots of cables.

When the lady finally stopped laughing, she explained that my “cable” wasn’t a wire cable at all — it was the new fiber optics. “Fiber optic cable is made out of long, hair-thin strands of glass.”

“If it’s called fiber optics, then why does it have glass inside? Shouldn’t it be filled with fibers? Fibers would be something I could repair with duct tape.” There was a long, confused pause on the other end of the phone before the nice lady confirmed my repair appointment for the next day.

By noon the cable/fiber optic/glass repair guy had completed his repair by laying a new cable from the street to the house. Why a completely new cable? He said, “You can’t splice fiber optics. It’s glass. And no, you can’t fix it with duct tape.” He also said he also uses WD-40 and duct tape to fix everything … except fiber optics.

Dad was right, and as confirmed by the phone company, the world is soon coming to an end.

But the end of the world wasn’t the only dire warning our dad made during those seven years we spent growing up on Flamingo Street. Perhaps the most ominous of the other warnings concerned the small shack located at the end of the Red Path.

But that’s a scary story for next week … that is, if the world really doesn’t end because of the whole “can’t fix it with WD-40 or duct tape” thing.

And if the world does end? Well then, I guess I’ll have something new to write about.

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories weekly in The Citizen since 2001.]