As of last February the NutriBullet (“the world’s original nutrient extractor”) became an integral part of my life. Prior to that, it sat on our counter, being used on a rare occasion to make a smoothie. However, after tipping the digital scale at a robust 245 pounds in late January, I decided to embark on a supervised (“coached”) weight-loss program (NutriMost) and the NutriBullet became an important component of my daily regimen. For those who have never used one, the ‘Bullet is a high-speed super-blender that does a great job mixing any variety of ingredients with some liquid (almond milk, juice, ice cubes) into a variety of pleasingly drinkable concoctions. The Nutribullet became an essential part of my daily routine and was at least partially responsible for 60 to 65 pounds disappearing by early October. So imagine my chagrin, confusion, anxiety, and concern when, on Sunday morning, I placed the Nutribullet cup in its armature, turned it counterclockwise and . . . nothing happened!! I tried again. And again. Nothing. The ‘Bullet was dead.
Desperately needing my morning dose of “Bulletproof Coffee” (16 ounces of coffee mixed with a tablespoon of KerryGold butter, a tablespoon of coconut oil and a liberal dose of flavored stevia), I quickly dug through our kitchen cabinets and unearthed an old Hamilton Beach blender, a pale substitute for the Nutribullet --- but it got the job done well enough. Nonetheless, I was momentarily bereft and, after that first coffee, repaired to the Internet to see what a replacement ‘Bullet would cost (or, as a substitute, a Cuisinart Blender --- which we had just used in our hotel in San Francisco --- a more than suitable replacement). Having done that, I then decided to do a little research on YouTube to see if there were any “Nutribullet Repair” videos available. Of course, there were.
I watched several videos but they all seemed to note that the problem with their machine was that the “activators,” the three small white tabs that the Cup slid into --- which were “activated” when you turned the cup counterclockwise---were stuck and wouldn’t depress and allow that counterclockwise turn. Upon checking my machine, however, the activators were all fine, they all depressed as they should and they allowed me to rotate the cup --- which should have started the machine. Clearly, something else was wrong with our Nutribullet.
Facing the idea of buying a new ‘Bullet (or Cuisinart Blender) I figured I had nothing to lose and might as well dismantle it (as shown in the repair videos) --- what the hell! So, I watched carefully and saw where the various Phillips head screws were that had to be removed, allowing me to break the machine down into three separate pieces: the “shell” exterior, the base & motor assembly with its protective cover, and the decorative bottom stand. I thought that I could, at the very least, clean the entire machine, check those activators, and see how ‘Bullet worked. In the process, I discovered something.
Each of the activators was held in place by two screws that held a small plastic “bar” in place, so the activator would stay aligned properly. In the process of removing the “bar” I discovered that one screw --- the one that happened to hold (what turned out to be) the main activator (because it directly connected the motor’s trip switch to that activator) had a broken plastic post --- a post that was supposed to hold the activator in place to start the motor!!! Because of that post not holding the activator in its place (I hypothesized) the Nutribullet motor could not be activated. Repairing that post might allow the Nutribullet to work again. So, I got the Gorilla Glue and carefully repaired the broken post --- and waited --- and waited (not my strong suit) --- for the glue to dry.
After about two hours of waiting, I reassembled the Nutribullet and was pleased to find that the newly-glued post actually held the activator bar in place, meaning my hypothesis would be tested, if I could reassemble the machine correctly. Watching the repair videos again, I took my time (again, not easy for me) and seemed to put everything back correctly --- no extra parts or screws were left on the table.
The moment of truth had come. I plugged the Nutribullet in and placed the cup down on the activators. I pushed down and twisted counterclockwise, not expecting much ---and it hummed to life! It worked! It was repaired! The Lovely Carol Marie heard the machine and thought I had plugged in the Hamilton Beach blender to fool her. But when I marched into the living room, arms raised triumphantly and declaring my success, she realized she had heard the Nutribullet ---working!
I realize that, in the grand scheme of things, repairing a Nutribullet is not a big deal. We’ve got a momentous midterm election coming up and everywhere we look the world seems to be going to hell in a hand basket. But fixing that Nutribullet reminded of something that I think many of us may lose sight of during this chaotic and confusing time. Solving a simple problem, thinking hard and devising a solution and working through a challenge is extremely satisfying. When I reflected on this simple Nutribullet experience over my Bulletproof coffee this morning I remembered how many times, within one school day, I was faced with problems and challenges --- encompassing a wide variety of situations --- and managed to come up with some kind of solution --- which was a key element in why teaching (my job) was enjoyable (and satisfying) for 42 years!
This simple experience --- fixing a household appliance --- reminded me of how so many of my colleagues and friends (teachers, lawyers, social workers, consultants, et al) were also great at solving problems and meeting challenges and I wondered if they took time --- reflected --- on not only how good they were at it but also how satisfying it is. Even the smallest problem, the simplest challenge requires that we “use our minds well” (as Ted Sizer so often reminded us) and how exhilarating that is.
Now, the Nutribullet may stop working again any minute --- the Gorilla glue may give, the contact point may stop connecting --- who knows? It really doesn’t matter because the SATISFACTION of having fixed it, of having solved the problem and having met the challenge (knowing that I can, again, take it apart and try to fix it, puzzle out the problem, search for the solution) that’s the fun of it all.
So, as your days go by, don’t miss those little moments, those small challenges or big problems that require you to dig deep and push yourself and, whether you successfully meet the challenge or solve the problem or not, enjoy those moments when you exercise your talent, your creativity, your intelligence. It’s too easy to lose sight of a simple pleasure like this in today’s chaotic times --- but we don’t have to.
Have a great (creative/challenging/problem-solving) day!