Sure I Failed This Back In High School, But Now I Master It Every Day

I wrote this post two years ago today on my old blog and am reposting it here because, well, I’m too lazy to write anything new today. The original title was From an F- to a B+.

The year was 1987. The location was my high school’s B Block. The subject was Industrial Arts. I think it might have been because my father wasn’t one to teach his sons the finer skills of home handyman work. Maybe it was because I really didn’t think I was going to be a boilermaker, carpenter or draughtsman. Whatever it was, when it came to metalwork, woodwork and technical drawing, I didn’t do so well at these subjects as far as getting good grades in high school.

I can remember getting back one of the drawings that I handed in to be marked. I wasn’t extremely proud of the fact that I had to stay up the night before to finish it off and needed a coffee to stay awake (especially since I put my coffee down on the piece of A3 paper that I was doing the drawing on, and left a coffee ring on the drawing).

We had to do one of those 60 degree three-dimensional drawings of a toaster including shading it the appropriate colours. We also had to do another drawing of the same toaster showing the side view, end view, top view and bottom view.

3d toaster drawing with coffee stain
My drawing looked something like this…

All my dimensions were correct. All of the perspectives were, well, in perspective. What my main problem was back then (and I guess to an extent now), I wasn’t exactly the tidiest draughtsman, so my paper had other smudges to match the coffee ring. When I got the drawings back from the teacher he wrote on it “22/21” and a comment in RED.

When I started in this technical drawing class we had 22 students. Come mid-year one of the students left our school but the teacher told me (verbally, I wish I had written evidence of this) that even the student who left deserved a better mark than I, and if he was judging us on how we placed, I would have been 22nd out of 21 students. Bugger.

My metal work and woodwork were pretty average. By no means could I call myself the Michelangelo of woodwork and if I had to forge my own sword back in the dark ages, consider me one of those “extras” in the battle that would have died within the first few minutes.

Fast forward to 2013. I spent a few days of my Christmas break in the garage building the ultimate workbench with cupboards and a splash back that would look good in any kitchen (well, not worthy of a 10 on The Block, but pretty impressive all the same). Today I started on some shelves for my office. We have an open planned living area down stairs with an office that is exposed to the sounds of our two boys playing whilst I am on Skype meeting with my head office. The office will soon have soundproof doors and shelves to block out where we have “fancy” holes in the walls that are supposed to be there for decorative purposes; that is, not practical.

Computers have really taken up much of the slack and compensated for many of our shortfalls, especially mine. And for almost twenty years since I left school I have created plenty of drawings for the various companies I have worked for, and many of the drawings were used to manufacture working systems from.

I drew plans for the deck for the back of our old house that were so detailed and so precise, the carpenter used these to buy the wood that he needed and had minimal waste, whilst the council approved them without needing to get an engineer to look over them as the guy I was dealing with assumed I was a professional draughtsman.

But I did them on my home computer, on a budget drawing program, late one night, having a coffee (which I didn’t spill on my computer), and even if I put it down on the paper I printed the plans on and left a ring, I could have, at the press of a button, printed out a clean copy. Better still, I could have emailed them.

In the 14 years since I have been a home owner, I have done many drawings, lots of woodwork and a little bit of metal work. All the structures are still standing, all the shelves and work benches are holding up. So even though I failed these things back in school, since then I have gone on to do so much better than when I was a young teenager.

What were you a “failure” at back in school that you have now perfected?

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