“Grandson. We are going to fish today at the dam.” Usually we fished from the pier or a boat. This added to my excitement. I had almost achieved 10 years of age, and really looked forward to going on this new fishing adventure. So off we went.

When we got to the dam, my Grandpa Anderson (whom our family also called Mr. A) gave me some clear and simple instructions.

“Grandson. Just cast a few feet out but do not attempt a longer cast. You see those low hanging wires going across the dam?” he said, pointing up at them.  “There is an upwind today and there is no way you can keep your line from going over the wires.”

A while into our fishing adventure, Mr. A left to go get something out of the car. I couldn’t resist. I knew how to cast. This should be easy.

But instead of going under the wires, the line and the bobber sailed over the wires. As I desperately sought to reel the line in before Grandpa returned it quickly turned futile – besides, the hook got caught in the wires. And all of a sudden, he stood beside me, looking at the tangled mess I had created.

“Grandson,” he said patiently, “Didn’t I talk with you about this.” Somehow he managed to get me ready to cast and fish again.

Later that day, he once again left me fishing alone for a few moments. While he was gone, I just had to try it again. I knew I could do this. It just can’t be that difficult. But once again the cast sailed over the wires and the line was stuck. I could not get it loose.

This time his reprimand was stronger and much firmer. “Grandson. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. Don’t keep repeating the same mistake over and over again.”

As he once again attempted to fix my foolishness, the hook along with the bobber got “permanently” stuck in the wire and the line had to be cut.

Whenever my family visited Grandma and Grandpa Anderson, we drove past the location of the dam. Each time that summer, I threw a glance toward the dam and could see my bobber hanging from that line – a constant reminder of the words of my Grandfather.

“If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work.”