Up North And Personal: Mechanical Uprising
By Ken DeLaat
It started with the washer.
First off I am not a fix-it guy in any way shape or form. I often say that my array of tools consists of a large hammer an ample supply of duct tape and the phone.
Mostly I tend to go with the phone.
When the washing machine began to make this rumbling noise it had not been known to utter before, I employed my usual strategy involving such things by ignoring it in the hope it was just an anomaly. Perhaps just a little...
...indigestion that would pass and we could go on tossing volumes of clothing items into it without a thought.
However it persisted.
Persisted and got louder.
Then the refrigerator, (an appliance I have had issues with since its arrival in our home but that’s another story) started rumbling out a peculiar noise as well. Awhile back its insolent icebox stopped producing cubes causing consternation over being unable to access mountains of it by merely opening the freezer door and digging into the handy, chock full of frozen nuggets drawer.
Then my smart phone began to malfunction. Yes, the item I once pledged to never own that now remains ensconced into my daily life having carved out a role for itself perhaps akin to an efficient and reliable personal assistant. It took a bit of a hike and left me incommunicado with my world.
Not necessarily a bad thing most times, however as editor and proprietor of N3 World Headquarters and Injured Appliance Emporium the phone, once viewed as a handy adjunct when searching for a restaurant on the road or wanting radio relief via Pandora, has now become the primary communication source to keep the news flowing onto the pages of our site.
While possessing an awareness of the trappings of convenience and occasionally giving consideration to a possible future quest for increased simplicity, I make no bones about venting frustration when these items designed to make life easier fall short of their promised delivery of services. Sure I can make ice on my own. I live on a lake so I could take my laundry down to where there is a large rock and wash my clothes by hand too but these things were purchased so there would be no need to do so.
When Lil and I got married and lived in our tiny 80 bucks a month house in the country our television was a black and white beast that weighed about as much as a small car. The channel selector had broken so, being newly married and wanting to show off my repair skills, I put a vise grips on the little rod that once held the selector. To change the channel one had to arise from the sitting position, walk across the room to the box, grab hold of the grips and twist it to one of the three stations available (four if the flag of aluminum foil on the antenna was in the right position) then monkey with the vertical hold and return to enjoy the snow covered picture.
These days if the remote is missing it feels like a major crisis.
So yes, I am aware of having gotten rather spoiled by the ease with which our world operates. Has this awareness made me less likely to vent frustration and exasperation when confronted with their shortcomings?
Not in the least.
The washing machine was taken care of with a phone call to our local repair guy. He put the beast back into working order in a timely fashion thus forestalling a trip to the laundromat a place the early years of our marriage brought me weekly and never as I recall with any pleasurable anticipation.
The phone was able to be put back in working order in a couple days thus allowing travel without diminished communication and with a viable alternative to NPR when not in a newsy mood.
And the fridge?
It’s a product that requires a fix-it person attached somehow to the company or at least contracted to them I imagine. We received a call that we would have an appointment on Tuesday between 1-5pm which required taking a half a day off to stay home and wait for them. Waiting has never been one of my favored activities but I kept busy before noticing it was 5pm. I called the toll free number and was assured via recording that my peeps were coming but the ETA had changed to 4:45-6:45.
Mildly peeved I went about my business until 7:05 when I called again and listened to bad music while going through the process of finding a human voice. A human voice with an accent my ears had difficulty picking up so frequent repeating proved necessary. He said after putting me on hold thrice that they were still on their way.
Skeptical at this point the doubt drifted into resignation when 9pm arrived with no repair person and no call.
The next day I called and found out from a female voice this time, albeit with a similar accent, that I had been rescheduled for 2 weeks hence, a fact that surprised me since we had not been notified.
Now, I’m not one to kill the messenger and know she had nothing to do with the elusive repairperson but there was a need to express dissatisfaction and I did so. She then assured me of two things:
1. That despite my consternation no repairman would be coming before the next time scheduled-2 weeks away and requiring another wait time from 1030am-230pm.
2. That she would file a complaint on my behalf.
A complaint I am relatively certain will not significantly rattle the bones of whatever they call the presumably mammoth department that deals with repairs but a complaint that will indeed preclude any further personal purchases from them. I know this action won’t bring down the company or create a tsunamic shift in customer service but it makes me feel a bit more empowered.
Empowered enough to reawaken a long dormant desire to learn more about fixing things.
I decided to use this part of my life to figure out how to no longer be defenseless against mechanical breakdowns. Washer, phone, fridge, or even bigger, with a little youtube and concentration I might be able to tackle anything or at least be able to effectively diagnose problems on my own. Lil would be so proud. Why, I might even be able to…..
My newfound commitment to change was interrupted by a call from my lovely and uberpatient lifetime spousal companion.
“The car’s making a funny sound off and on. What should I do?”
‘Is it doing it now?’
‘Then let’s just not worry about it and if it starts doing it again just call the garage and have them fix it.’
Amazing how clearly a sigh can be heard over the phone.
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