Frequently, I will read about or see pictures of ingenious solutions people have come up with to resolve a problem. Some are obvious fabrications developed from whatever materials are on hand to solve a specific problem, while others have been designed and developed and shaped into a finished product that can be used by others. I am afraid I lack the imagination to invent “Rube Goldberg” fixes, so I always admire those that do. My wife once fixed a crease in a car door where it was hitting the fender (I’ve had some very old and marginal cars) by sliding a wrench into the space between the two and slamming the door. It wasn’t perfect, but it worked.
I am reminded of a story I heard years ago. Early in my career, I lived in Houston. My company was a major supplier of products to both the retail and construction industries. One of our biggest customers was a family owned construction company that built huge apartment complexes in the area. As such, they demanded a lot of attention and I therefore spent a lot of time in their offices. The business at that time was run by the son, but the founder, his father, who was in his eighties, still retained an office in their headquarters. He would come in every morning, nattily dressed in a suit and crisp white shirt. He had no official duties, so he would read the Wall Street Journal and just kind of walk around, looking for someone to talk to.
It was on one such occasion, while I was sitting in the lobby, waiting to meet with the son, that the father walked by and motioned me into his office. I followed and we began to chat about anything and everything. I remember asking him how he got started and he related the following story.
During the depression, he said, real estate was real cheap and there were a lot of vacant stores and businesses. He found and purchased a small strip shopping center down on the south side that contained a few store fronts and a movie theater. The theater was on the brink of going under due to the lack of customers. He knew he had to keep the theater going if he was going to attract business to his stores. So he took over operation of the theater himself. He said the first thing he did was increase the cost of a box of popcorn to ten cents to keep from having to raise the price of the tickets. He said almost immediately, everyone stopped buying popcorn. So he said, I dropped the cost of popcorn back to five cents, but I had the guy making it “salt the hell out of it”. He said it didn’t take long before his soft drink sales went through the roof. I can still hear him laughing.
I guess that is why he was wealthy and I am not. Some of us have it and some of us don’t. Popcorn anyone??