If You’ve Got a Problem, Just Do a Number 8

P1580910 759662After an invigorating mountain bike ride down steep and grassy slopes, Dave Judson took me to his favorite Nelson pub, the House of Ales, for a refreshing beer with a citrus flavor. There he told me a story about when he came to Canada and did a number 8.

Number 8 is an expression here that goes back to the earliest settler’s days. It was the number 8 wire that you used to make fences, and this useful wire was used for all sorts of fix-it jobs and hacks. So if a Kiwi is ‘doing an number 8,’ he’s using a coat hanger for a car radio antenna or coming up with some other clever way to make something work.

Dave’s friend’s young son was hitting baseballs and a stray ball took out a neighbor’s window. Like any good citizen, Dave promptly went to find the boy’s father, and intended to walk over to the house and tell him of the damage. When they got there, the man had called the police, much to Dave’s chagrin. “Why did you call the cops? We are the ones who broke the window, so there’s no need to involve them,” he said.

But the neighbor told him, he didn’t know what happened, and so he did what he did. Dave was amused by this, and promptly offered to number 8 the problem. He drove to the store, bought the silcone, fixed the pane and then fixed the broken blind mechanism beside it. The Canadian was stunned. “How did you know how to fix that??” he stammered, offering to pay Dave for his time.

“I’m a Kiwi,” he said, “we just know how to do stuff like that.”