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October 8, 2012

Stop and Have a Hamburger

by mikediliberto

Living in Asia and spending most of my time on the mainland of China leaves me missing so many of things that we take for granted in other areas of the world.  Western food is, of course, one of those things that is just hard to find outside of large cities.  A few weeks ago, I found myself criss-crossing Shanghai with several colleagues, looking for a sample of a hard to find electronic component.  After a few fruitless hours of searching the various markets, I suggested to everyone that we take a break for lunch;  this request for a lunch break happened to occur while in close proximity to one of the better hamburger spots in Shanghai, Kabb Grill. (It’s no Hodad’s Hamburger, our favorite from back home in San Diego, but hey you take what you can get around here!)

Over a few cold beers our frustrations started to melt away, and we started chatting about other various topics.  Finally, one of the engineers spoke up and said “You know what we need? a radio repair shop.  Transistor radios always have these types of components in them”  A moment later I asked “couldn’t we just buy some cheap radios and get the parts from there?” A stunned silence fell over all of as we realized that we had solved the issue that had been dogging us all day long.

We might have figured it out eventually, but it was pausing for a few minutes, and occupying our brains with other thoughts that brought the solution bubbling to the top. It was a good lesson.  It is easy, especially when you are far from home, in a strange place, at a supplier, with a time crunch weighing on you heavily, that you can get overwhelmed with, well, everything.  I have been trying recently to consciously stop myself, and take a step back from the situation, and it is in these moments, these times when I walk away from the group and put on my headphones for five minutes or occupy my mind with writing a random blog post, that a solution suddenly becomes apparent.

Sometimes when you’re struggling with a problem that seems insurmountable, it might be time to take a break, take a walk, play a game, have a beer, or if you’re so lucky, go have a hamburger.

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