Years of engineering education and design experience using cutting edge technologies. A sweltering day on the beach in Mexico, a blazing sun, no shade. Thinking we were so clever, my wife and I prepared in advance by bringing a piece of tarp and some rope so that we could create our own cabana and prolong our time at the beach. How smart is that!
We get to the beach, short on one thing; poles to hold up the tarp. But we are highly educated professionals on vacation! So we use a cliffside to support part of the tarp. Still, not enough rope. What to do?
Down the beach is a local man and his family at the beach on holiday. They have their own tarp set up and are happily enjoying the shade while watching us struggle to erect our own refuge. He walks over with an extra branch for a tent pole. It’s immediately clear to both of us that the language gulf is deep and wide. Without even bothering to try to speak, other than with his smile, he squats down to the wuzzle of rope and proceeds to untwist the three twisted strands, splitting the rope into three separate pieces. Result, three times as much rope!
We both set to work using this new found bounty to suspend the tarp securely, leaving us with a shady home for the day! I thank him, he nods with another smile, and returns to his family. Other than a few smiles throughout the afternoon, we keep to ourselves.
As we decamp to return to our air-conditioned accommodations, we drop off the rope and branch and wave goodbye. Necessity is always a mother of invention, and a great way to humble an overeducated American!