The Mystery of the Fence


This is my fence. As you can see it is open, not closed. It’s been driving me crazy for two months or so. Every morning I walk out to my truck and the fence is open, and I walk over and close it.

Last Friday morning I woke up early and went out and tightened my fence and adjusted the hinges to make sure it was level. I pushed on the fenced, then pulled on the fence and it stayed shut. “Finally!” I thought, “I fixed the fence.”

Next I started installing a new tow hitch receiver on the front of my truck. As I sat up from tightening a bolt, standing about four feet from my face was a short neighbor kid. I was a bit startled, but said “how’s it going.” He smiled and kept walking — to school.

As he walked off, I finished my work and went to clean up and guess what? My fence was open.

Turns out, I fixed the wrong problem — the open fence had nothing to do with loose bolts, but rather it was the work of an inventive boy.

My fence doesn’t bother me as much anymore, in part because I like the kid and I’m happy he feels like he can take a short cut through my yard. The other reason I’m not too worried about it, is because I know that it’s easy to solve problems caused by mechanical parts and machines, it takes more time to change the behavior of a human — especially a boy.

Will my fence ever be fixed? Yep. But not until I have the chance to train the boy and make him feel it is worth the time to change his behavior. These type of fixes take a bit more time.. But one day, I’ll be out working in my drive way, maybe shoveling snow this winter and my young friend will make his way through my fence and I’ll have a chance to ask him for his help. I’ll say something like, “Eric, I think it’s cool that you take a short cut through the yard, but I need your help. I’m looking for someone who can help me keep my fence gate closed when I’m not around. Will you do me a favor and every time you see the gate open, will you close it as you go by? Will you do that for me?”

He’ll forget sometimes, but I’ll catch him closing it and every time I see him after that I’ll say, “Eric, you are the man! Ever since I put you in charge of keeping my fence closed, it has been closed almost every time I’ve gotten in and out of my truck. Thank you for doing such a good job.”

Turns out boys like being “the man” and chances are Eric will start working to keep my fence closed even more accurately than a tightened bolt would. So, my fence is open at this very minute, but I can see the future and know that there will be a day when the fence will be fixed, and a boy will be better because of it. So, I’m happy and can’t wait to catch the kid.

At Jewel Kade we are in a constant state of discovery, looking for fences that are open because of a loose bolt — and tightening those bolts quickly — and looking for fences that are open for other reasons. Finding the right tool and making sure you’re fixing the right problem takes more time than most would think. I’m happy because I see us catching the “kid” responsible for this and that everyday and making the changes that will keep the fence closed consistently over time, not just until the next school bell rings.

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