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Here’s a Magic Word We Learned from Hank, the Pool Guy

photo: Lord Jim on flickr

photo: Lord Jim on flickr

What’s your favorite word? Do you have one?

If so, do you say it all the time, like “Dude” or “Awesome“?

Or do you only use it every once and a while? Like, “Gosh, I sure am feeling copacetic today.” Or, “I wish I wasn’t so discombobulated.”

I have so many favorite words, it’s hard to pick just one.

Copacetic will always have a sweet spot in my heart. I’m also a big fan of groovy. Groovy, in my humble opinion, never should have gone out of style.

And then there are words that are so annoying, I like them. Words like unctuous. And ointment.

photo: GanMed 64 on flickr

photo: GanMed 64 on flickr

Our new best friend, Hank the Pool Guy, has a favorite word. He uses it all the time. And, surprisingly, he – and his favorite word – made a big impact on Melissa and me.

Here’s what happened:

Right before Melissa and I went on our honeymoon, our hot tub went on the fritz. I think it was angry we were leaving it behind while we traipsed off to other places with other hot tubs.

How about a nice, big hot-tub bill for your wedding present? How’s that for a fun gift?!

I called a bunch of places, but it was the middle of summer and the spa repair people were extremely busy. I finally had someone return my call, and he told me he could come out the day after we returned from our honeymoon.

Groovy¸ I said. We’ll see you then.

photo: Dan Zen on flickr

photo: Dan Zen on flickr

The first time I saw Hank the Pool Guy, he was standing at my front door, smiling.

Hank has a big smile. He’s one of those dudes who is perpetually happy.

Does he use herbal enhancements to maintain this state? I don’t know.

But I was a little worried, because he looked like someone who would be more comfortable in the pool than outside the pool, performing delicate repairs.

My initial response aside, Hank turned out to be a fabulous spa repair guy. He fixed the problem in a jiffy, and he gave us great tips on how to maintain the hot tub so we wouldn’t have the same kinds of problems again.

Every time Melissa or I interacted with Hank, we were struck by his optimistic, can-do attitude.

There was something about him that radiated positivity, but it was hard to say exactly what it was. Was it his smile? His voice? His mellow vibe?

photo: Don Hankins on flickr

photo: Don Hankins on flickr

It took a few visits for our hot tub to be returned to its previous state of glory, and it was on Hank’s final visit that Melissa and I finally pinpointed the tell-tale sign of his optimism.

It was the word “Oh.” Hank said it at the beginning of every sentence. It was a verbal tic, one that indicated a state of perpetual openness, perpetual wonder.

Oh, here’s a way you can handle that kind of problem in the future.” “Oh, New Orleans, I used to live there. It was awesome.” “Oh, I know what you mean.”

It’s such a small word, “Oh,” but every time it came out of Hank’s mouth, it seemed to signify a powerful readiness, an unadulterated receptivity to life.

Yes, the word “Oh” could be used in an entirely different manner. One denoting cynicism or anger.

But that’s not what Hank was about. Hank was about discovering a new surprise around each corner. And each new surprise was greeted with another “Oh.” Another open-armed welcome into his world.

raise your arms if you're sure

It’s been a long time since our hot tub was fixed, but we still check in with Hank from time to time. Just the other day, Melissa called him to ask a question about hot-tub maintenance. She reported that he was still his awesome self, still riding the “Oh.”

When I think of Hank, I am struck by the power of a simple word, the power of a simple intention.

Just a slight shift in a more positive direction can make a world of difference. We all have the power to do this, every day.

Try greeting everything in your world with an “Oh,” whether you use the word or not. Try noticing the wonders around you, being open to the surprises around each corner.

Hank does. And you can too.

photo: Daniel Zedda on flickr

photo: Daniel Zedda on flickr

How do you use language to magnify your positivity? And who are the Hanks in your life?

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24 Responses to Here’s a Magic Word We Learned from Hank, the Pool Guy

  1. Sara Nichols January 22, 2013 at 7:39 am #

    I agree that groovy never should have gone out of style. I groovy people sometimes, and then they look at me funny. I think the use of it implies that i’m prime instead of tail-end baby boomer. I’ve probably met someone who “ohs” but I’m not sure. I definitely have a friend who starts every sentence with “yeah so” as if we are just finishing a conversation and he’s changing the subject. The subject he’s changing it to is almost always some very far left thought.

    It was particularly jarring the other day when he just jumped in with “yeah so I once travelled to Cuba and met and got to talk with Castro.”

    • Z Egloff January 22, 2013 at 11:26 am #

      Hi Sara!!

      Oh, how groovy of you to stop by! I know what you mean about the looks you get when you bust out “groovy” in a conversation. I guess we could resort to a “yeah so” to distract them. 😉

      XOZ

  2. Jo Lauer January 22, 2013 at 9:07 am #

    Oh! What a lovely entry into my day rivaled only by my Dad’s favorite phrase, “Get up, get up! You don’t want to miss the golden hours (sunrise),” said with such awe and wonder I would actually catapult out of bed at ridiculous hours to witness the event.

    My favorite word seems to be “Fabulous.” Sometimes when I say it I feel like a female version of Tim Gunn rummaging through the Project Runway workroom pulling out design apparel to die for. Nonetheless, it captures for me the child-like exuberance, awe and wonder of finding a shiny treasure in a pile of rubble or the rainbow colors in a puddle of oily water on a driveway.

    By the way, I think your blog is simply FABULOUS!

    • Z Egloff January 22, 2013 at 11:30 am #

      Hi Jo,

      Oh, I love your dad’s phrase. And I love that it inspired you to wake early and witness the golden dawn. Sweet!

      I also love the word Fabulous! I often feel like a gay guy in a woman’s body – albeit a woman who looks kinda like a gay guy. And Tim Gunn is truly fabulous. Did you see the season, early on, when one of the contestants did a spot-on imitation of Tim? It was, well, fabulous.

      Thank you for your groovy comment!! :)

      XOZ

  3. Antonia January 22, 2013 at 9:19 am #

    I always liked the word “unctuous.” It’s actually the first word on my list of words to use more often. Go figure…….
    Nice post Z……

    • Z Egloff January 22, 2013 at 11:31 am #

      Hi Antonia,

      Oh, I will also have to start adding unctuous to my conversational repertoire. I wonder how I can pair it with groovy?!. . . .

      Thanks for stopping by! :)

      XOZ

  4. Karen January 22, 2013 at 10:35 am #

    Oh, one of my favorite words these days is “terrific.” I guess it reminds me of one of my long-ago favorite cartoon characters, Tom Terrific, with his trusty companion, Manfred the Wonder Dog. Tom wore a funnel upside down on his head. I’m not sure of the significance of that, but maybe it was his way of funneling great ideas right into his cranium.

    Oh, thanks, Z, for another terrific post. :)

    • Z Egloff January 22, 2013 at 11:34 am #

      Hi Karen!

      Oh, terrific is a terrific word! I don’t remember Tom Terrific, but the funnel sounds like an inspired idea. I wonder what people would say if I adopted this fashion choice. They would probably call it groovy. :)

      Thank YOU for another terrific comment! 😉

      XOZ

  5. Donna January 22, 2013 at 11:18 am #

    Groovy went out of style? Oh…

    • Z Egloff January 22, 2013 at 11:34 am #

      Hi Donna,

      Oh, pretend you never heard that. It was an unctuous observation. It’s all about the groovy. :)

      XOZ

  6. Suzanne January 22, 2013 at 11:21 am #

    Great story, as always, Z! I am unable, at this moment, to select just one word that I am taken with. It changes far too frequently.

    Oh…by the way, Tom and I have been looking for a great spa guy. How can we reach Hank???? He sounds like our man.

    Thank you!

    • Z Egloff January 22, 2013 at 11:38 am #

      Hi Suzanne!

      Oh, nice to have so many favorite words. I’m more of a minimalist, so I tend to focus on just a few at a time.

      I will have Melissa contact you with the number – she’s the phone person in our household. But we’d be happy to share Hank with you!!

      XOZ

  7. Angelica Jayne Taggart January 22, 2013 at 11:37 am #

    Oh! this was a good one !! I sometimes use ‘oh’ to begin my sentences in e-mails … sorta means “I almost forgot” like “Oh, I wanted to remind you that …”

    • Z Egloff January 22, 2013 at 11:42 am #

      Hi Angelica!

      Oh, that’s a groovy use of Oh. To me, it sounds similar to Hank’s use of the word. Basically, you’re open to more, whatever that is. Even if it’s something you just remembered. :)

      Oh, and thanks for your comment!

      XOZ

  8. Claire January 22, 2013 at 1:36 pm #

    you rock oh z! Can’t wait to see your new rap song Sunday the 27th!

    • Z Egloff January 23, 2013 at 11:48 am #

      Oh Claire,

      Thank you. I can’t wait to see it either! 😉

      XOZ

  9. Fran January 23, 2013 at 10:49 am #

    Amazing how I can read your blog and have an “feel better” experience! Thank you!!!

    • Z Egloff January 23, 2013 at 11:47 am #

      Hi Fran,

      Yay! Thank you for letting me know! :)

      XOZ

  10. M January 24, 2013 at 8:23 am #

    O–Z

    O–Happy Day
    O–Beautiful for spacious skies
    O-Ole MacDonald had a farm (e-i-e-i-O !)
    O–It’s a small world after ALL !

    O–Adding music to our words is…O (so) Powereful
    O–perhaps: O (so) Divine !

    M (rather O-M…would that be like Ohmmmmmmmmm ! ? )

    (O- Godspeed on your perfomance Duday)

    • Z Egloff January 24, 2013 at 11:28 am #

      O M!!

      Yes, very much like Ommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

      And I noticed that O Z looks like OZ. As in the Wizard of.

      Oh, thank you for the O Poetry. And O Good Wishes. :)

      O XOZ

      • Sara Nichols January 25, 2013 at 10:44 am #

        O O say can you Z?

        • Z Egloff January 25, 2013 at 10:54 am #

          By the dawn’s Groovy light

  11. Whitefire January 25, 2013 at 10:04 am #

    Awesome! This word always sings and zings with energy and a luscious lilt.

    I use it a lot, as in: a happy note that things are now handled, confirming and complimenting somone’s thought or action, after writing a juicy part of my novel, inventing a new tool, grokking a revelation.

    My Mastermind phone buddy was just laid off and I replied “Awesome!” Her response, “Thank you. You’re the only one who really gets it.” “Opportunity calling!” I sang back.

    Thanks to your blog, I’m going to say it when I encounter any “problem.”

    Awesome Z, just awesome.

    • Z Egloff January 25, 2013 at 10:51 am #

      Hi Whitefire!

      I love awesome. I have a friend who thinks the word is way overused, but how can it be bad to have more awesome-ness in the world?!

      Go forth and spread Awesome across the land!! Fly and be free with your Awesome self!! :)

      XOZ

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