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Can't Happen Here

three little words we all need to get over

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by Mike Paulus

My window’s are probably going to fall out of my house pretty soon. If they don’t just up and plop right out onto the lawn, they’ll probably disintegrate into a pile of dusty glass and paint chips under the weight of the next strong breeze. Because they are old. And neglected. And I suck at fixing things.

To clarify, it’s not so much that I suck at fixing things. It’s that I suck at wanting to fix things. (I probably suck at the actual fixing, too, I just rarely get to find out.)

Allow me to be perfectly honest with you about the crucial topic of window repair. I don’t want to do it because it looks complex with a high possibility of doing an ugly job if not completely screwing it up altogether. I mean, come on, there are moving parts involved.

So if there’s a handy man/woman out there who knows how to fix windows – or even one who just enjoys repainting them – give me a call. Serious inquiries only, please. Also, inquiries from people who prefer to get paid in handwritten X-Files fanfiction only, please.

Sure, I could just find someone to show me how to repair my windows. Or, silly me, I could simply Google “fix my broke-ass windows” and teach myself how to do it. But so far I haven’t done anything because, again, I suck at fixing stuff. And furthermore (furthermore!), I’ll probably never become good at fixing stuff. I’ve accepted this. I’ve stopped feeling guilty about it. Fixing windows and other window-like things just isn’t me. It’s just not gonna happen. I’ve never been that way – why would I change now?

If this hadn’t been a pattern in my life, I might have thought I was being affected by recent experiences. Lately, I’ve noticed an atypically large influx of people complaining about the Chippewa Valley’s “can’t happen here” attitude. The complaints are usually in response to the atypically large influx of people saying something can’t happen here.

See, every time someone proposes a new building project or a new kind of business or a new attitude towards a certain cultural scene – or, say, a massive rethinking of local city street design, Volume One Magazine Issue #152  – there’s usually someone helpfully pointing out that “it’s a nice idea, but ... not gonna happen.” Now, there’s nothing wrong with criticism when your talking about big, important, complex ideas. In most cases, criticism is more important than praise. But to me, when someone says that something will “never happen,” it’s rarely about the actual idea and more about a chance to look well-informed, realistic, and just chockfull of common sense dagnabbit! Even if none of those attributes actually apply.

People, that attitude is downright un-‘merican.

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