Left-handed Hammers? Trust Your Gut

“Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.”

—Benjamin Spock

by Brian Hague

I was lucky growing up. I had a really great dad. But there was another man who treated me like a son. His name was Gary.

dad's hammer

My other dad, Gary

Back in 1992, I was 14. Gary promised to help me build a new skateboard ramp. We were at Home Depot, buying wood and supplies. “Brian, go grab a left-handed hammer,” he said.

Left-handed hammer? Sounded funny. Didn’t Gary have a hammer? Well, maybe it broke. I scurried away. Left-handed hammer? Easy. Shouldn’t take long.   

Hundreds of hammers hung in long rows. Left-handers? None were labeled that way. Hmmm. I tried one, then another, about 50 more. Swung each both hands. Which felt best? It was close, but one felt more right (in my left).

When I found Gary, he shook his head, “No, this hammer’s not a left-hander. Come on, Bri, if we’re going to build the ramp, we don’t have much time.”

“But,” I said,

“They must be out of left-handed hammers! I looked at them all.”

On the way home, we stopped at Ace Hardware a few blocks away. “Go see if you can find one in there,” Gary said. He shoved $20 in my hand.

I scoured the store. I asked. “Nothing like that,” the man said. I jumped back into the car without a word.

“They don’t have left-handed hammers either,” I huffed.

A few more miles. Gary pulled into a Safeway.

“No way,” I said, “Not again.” I thought, if he wants a left-handed hammer, he can get it himself. I threw the crumpled $20 in Gary’s lap and stared out the window. A minute went by. We sat in the lot.

Gary then said, “Good for you, Bri, I’m proud.”

“Proud of what?” I asked.

“You’re old enough to know what people say may not be right. They could be mistaken, or purposely pulling wool over your eyes. Your gut said left-handed hammers sounded ridiculous, right?”

I nodded. Gary then said one of the smartest things I’ve heard in life.

“Doesn’t sound right? Stop. Question. Find out. Trust your gut. Don’t be a robot.”

We went home and built that ramp… with the “left-handed hammer” he had in the garage.

Love you, Gary.

trust your gut

Any left-handed hammers?

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