Sunday, December 07, 2014

fixers and breakers

My friend had just arrived. We had made plans to brave the cold and go for a brief jog through the neighborhood. …

But I wasn't ready.

Instead, I was stuffing a small mountain of denim and Perma Press into the front-loader.

“I can finally do laundry!” I said with all the excitement I usually reserve for a sale on the pricey yogurt at the supermarket.

She knew exactly what I meant …

The washer hadn't been working for months. It wasn't broken, but there was something wrong with the outlet that connected it to power.

My husband had finally gotten around to “fixing” it.

“It must be nice for you ... that he's so handy,” she said, earnestly congratulating my husband for being a gen-u-ine Mr. Fix-It.

The equivalency of a husband who can repair a leak in a faucet or rewire an outlet in the laundry is calculated against an outrageous hourly fee. With or without plumber's crack.

I can't compete.

Even if one were to combine the wages of the babysitter, the maid and the school bus driver, who make up the basis of my unspoken worth, we're not even close. Of course a babysitter who swears in front of the kids, a maid who never mops the floors and a bus driver who plays inappropriate music on the way to and from school wouldn't likely have union representation in her corner.

But I digress.

Nice wasn't the word I would use to describe the way my husband fixes things. Humorous is more to the point.

Truth be told. It's not as if his skills are any more marketable than mine.

I still remember the cumbersome instructions we had to review for guests after he fixed the lighting in our first house:

"Ok. If you need to use the bathroom, remember to turn on the track lights in the dining room first. They are on the same circuit, and the bathroom lights won’t turn on without the dining room lights on. … And if you turn on the hall lights and they go off by themselves don't worry, it's nothing. Just turn them back on, making sure the switch located all the way to the left is turned on first. Oh. ... and the light over the bed works with a remote control. If you can't get them to come on you'll have to go to the main panel on the wall, make sure that the switch is pressed DOWN, and press the sensor – located on the right – seven times until the little green lights on the left side of the switch glow orange."

Yeah … those were the days … Strange no one ever asked to be shown the location of the fire extinguisher.

In retrospect, he has evolved rapidly since those early days of do-it-yourself electrical work.

In our current home, most of the lights do what one would expect with a simple flip of a switch. But not all.

Eventually. … the perfect confluence of boredom and ingenuity would meet one rainy afternoon … and he would descend into the basement to finish what he'd started.

Fingers crossed, I listened to clanging and muttered curse words as they wafted up from the cellar, and dreamed of doing laundry without tripping over an extension cord, which had snaked up from the depths of the house for far too long.

But I didn't need to be clairvoyant to understand the price for such a wonderful development in the at-home washing business had been paid inadvertently by the dryer. In 40 minutes – the time, it takes for a load of heavy-duty duds to cycle through all the prescribed rinses – that crazy thought would become a fact.

For one machine to work, it seemed, the other had to be on hiatus.

Breaker, breaker. … who's got the breaker?

No comments: