November 17, 2013

Maine Observer: Not much that duct tape can’t fix

Even a professor can learn a lot about resourcefulness by spending some time with students after class.

By Charles Thompson

Most years I am excited to get back to teaching, but this year class caught me off guard. For the very first time, we began our semester before Labor Day, and I hurried to get prepared and began my first day of class.


Charles Thompson of Saco is a professor of art at the University of New England.

Two days later, I was rushing to get out of my office to get home for the holiday weekend. I dashed to the parking lot and, to my surprise, found my van and one other lonely car.

As I was getting in, a voice from the other side greeted me. There on the ground sat one of my former students and a friend.

Next to them sat a late-model car’s grille and bumper, which looked as if they had just been taken apart. My former student explained she had run over a rock and broken down the front end of her car.

She had been driving around with the parts in her back seat, since a body shop told her it would cost $1,000 to repair.

Wow, too much! Being the industrious and creative student that she was, she had bought some large plastic tie wraps and some duct tape. I began watching as the two carefully wrapped the tape around the inner pressed Styrofoam bumper.

They then tried to place the piece back on the car. They were having some trouble, so my paternal instinct kicked in and I sat down next to them and began helping.

I suggested turning the piece over. We did, and it fit perfectly. I held the piece in place and the two young ladies wrapped duct tape around the bumper to the steel undercarriage beam.

They then placed the plastic grille and bumper cover over the inner bumper. Voila, it seemed to fit, so they each started running heavy plastic ties through the holes that had formerly held screws.

With each tie, the front end seemed to get more secure and the car was coming back together.

Once everything was in place, they noticed a small black plastic splash guard hanging down under the front wheel. I tried to find a place to attach the piece but could not.

We decided the solution was to remove the piece. I pulled and pulled with little luck.

Finally we used a pair of scissors to cut it off. She then closed her hood, and her car looked as if it had never been injured and looked no worse for the wear. All parts were intact and she was ready to drive.

The car’s owner told me her vehicle had to get her through one more year. I think it just might.

— Special to the Telegram

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