chain.jpgI like to fix things, make them better. Make them run more efficiently and effectively. Produce more output with less effort.

My dad was a civil engineer, a hands-on, do-it-yourself kind of guy. From him I learned a willingness to open things up and peer inside to try to figure out how they worked.

As a result, when I got started in rental real estate it was natural for me to do a lot of my own maintenance and I was a fairly decent jack-of-all-trades handyman. For years I drove around with a full set of tools in the trunk of my car and spares for many common repairs: door knobs, window cranks, outlet and switch covers, thermocouples. My car was a mobile hardware shop. You name it, I had it.

I enjoyed working with my hands. A job well done gave me an immediate sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. Such feedback is much more illusive doing the more cerebral tasks that are my daily fare these days.

So when I heard a toilet running in an Einstein Bagels restroom in South Beach (Alton Road and 15th Street) the other day, it was almost instinctive to take off the lid to diagnose the problem: the chain had caught under the flapper, causing the wasted water flow. Figuring it to be just a fluke episode and a quick fix, I unsnagged the chain, replaced the lid, washed my hands thoroughly, and went on my way.

Two days later I was back (okay, I like their power bagels). Same toilet, same problem. Chain still getting caught. Must be systemic issue, not the previously assumed fluke occurrence. So I went to next level solution, just a tad more involved. I shortened the length of the chain and hoped for a permanent fix.

Yeah, I know. None of my business. Not my problem. Weird thing for a 57-year-old guy in my position. But it was fun. And a little bit of water, an evermore precious resource, was saved. And perhaps, in some small way, the world was left a tiny bit better.