I’ve just arrived in Omaha, Nebraska, to buy a collection of twelve accordions.
Why drive 1,200 miles for accordions? Because they’ve been lovingly refurbished by legendary accordion repairman Stan Galli. He’s worked for decades repairing accordions all over the United States. Now he’s retired from the business, and he’s ready to part with his collection. Accordions are too fragile and expensive to ship; driving them is the only way.
Stan offered to teach me some of his accordion repair techniques, and that’s what we’ll be doing today. My new hobby is repairing accordions, and it’s really complicated. There aren’t many people around who know how to do it. I started teaching myself because the closest shop was 250 miles away, and my own accordion needed some work. It’s just as hard as finding a mechanic for my 1982 BMW motorcycle. (The next thing you know, I’ll be writing a book called Zen and the Art of Accordion Maintenance.)
Accordion repair has nothing to do with my career as a professor and creativity researcher. I’m just doing it because it’s fun. But who knows? In my book ZIG ZAG, I tell readers you’ll be more creative if you do something totally different from your main profession. Perhaps, in my subconscious mind, the intricacies of the accordion’s internal mechanism will prompt a surprising analogy, and I’ll have a new idea about how to help organizations foster more collaborative cultures. But even it doesn’t, I’ll still have a lot of fun.
(I originally found out about Stan when I read this poignant story in the Omaha World-Herald.)