Knowing Where to Tap

A giant ship engine failed while in Norwalk CT harbor. The ship’s owners tried one expert after another, but none of them could figure but how to fix the engine.

They finally found an old man from Stamford CT who had been fixing ships since he was a young boy. He carried a large bag of tools with him, and when he arrived, he went to work. He inspected the engine very methodically and very carefully, top to bottom.  He listened and tapped and pushed and pulled.

Two of the ship’s owners were there, watching this man, hoping he would know what to do. After an hour of careful examination, the old man finally reached into his bag and pulled out a small hammer. He gently tapped something in a very particular and precise spot. Instantly, the engine lurched into life. He carefully put his hammer away.

The engine was fixed!

A week later, the owners received a bill from the old man for ten thousand dollars.“What?!” the owners exclaimed. “He hardly did anything!” So they wrote the old man a note saying, “Please send us an itemized bill.”

The man sent a bill that read:

Tapping with a hammer…………………….$        2

Knowing where to tap…………………….. $ 9,998

(The above is from the internet and attributed to various sources.)

One of my friends in business explained why they used the experienced lawyer who was more expensive.  “Because of his expertise, knowledge and wisdom we were not billed for the research and drafting time we probably would have been charged had we gone with a less expensive, but less experienced attorney.  One hour at $500 per hour is a lot cheaper than ten hours at $250 per hour.  We learned the hard way.“

In my experience the old saying, “You get what you pay for,” holds true most of the time.  The moral of this story is to hire the right, experienced professional for the job at hand.  Whether you’re choosing an attorney, accountant, financial planner, plumber, or repairing a ship, it can be tempting to save a few dollars up front. Just make sure that doesn’t wind up costing more time and money in the long run.