THE KITCHEN – Not again. My ice dispenser doesn’t seem to be working, I’ll will have to call the repairman, although I’d rather go to the dentist for a root canal. Not only is he usually on time, he’s cheaper. A repairman — or delivery person — coming to your home is no big deal, except that it’s a big deal when there seems to be a parade of them. In recent weeks I have had the cable people visit, the burglar alarm folks, the yardman with countless problems including something about the Border Patrol — I couldn’t understand him — the a/c guy and the refrigerator repairman four times.
Our story goes like this: An appliance breaks or a sink starts making funny noises or maybe it’s just time for the monthly or yearly checkup. So you look for the phone number for Jake or LeRoy or the Fly By Night Plumbing Co. (“Press 1 if your shower is overflowing, press 2 if your toilet won’t flush … press 45 if your….”) Or you may be put on hold even though your call is very important to them, and all their associates (two) are busy with other customers, so you listen to some Sirius music (the love theme from “Patton”) until Gloria or Jose or more likely Akmed, who goes to the same English as a Second Language class as my yardman, gets on the line. Then you try to make an appointment. Akmed asks what day you want, adding, “This is 2016, right? March? April?” You can tell this may be a problem. We settle on the next Friday, sometime between Thursday and Saturday. “Let’s say noon. I’ll be fully awake by then.”
You know how tiring you can get just sitting in an airport terminal waiting for your delayed flight to leave? You aren’t doing a thing but killing time reading the paper, watching TV on the wall, with no sound, maybe hitting the bar, except it’s 10 a.m. The wait can be exhausting. Well, so is sitting around the house all day, keeping an eye on the clock and the front curb, waiting for the white van with the side panels reading: “May The Pest Man Win – our killin’ is thrillin.’” And you can’t leave the house even to take out the garbage (the garbage disposal is broken, which is why you are awaiting the repairman). You were told he would call 30 minutes before arriving. So what if he calls while you are taking out the garbage, and you miss the call? He draws a line through your name and the whole drama begins again.
The guy comes to fix your broken doorbell, rings the doorbell, no answer because the doorbell doesn’t work. Mine doesn’t work because a woman wire worker running lines for my burglar alarm – the neighborhood has a Viking problem – drilled a hole in a wall and cut the power line to the doorbell. I figured the reason she made a mistake was that she couldn’t see where to drill because she was wearing a ski mask. Do you ever wonder about people who install burglar alarms, then ask if you’ll be taking any out-of-town trips in the near future? The only solution to my broken doorbell wire was to tear out the wall, and by then the alligators were nibbling on my rear and the swamp was still full. So we have a doormat reading: “Doorbell broken – yell Ding! Dong! Real loud.” It works.
The only thing worse than a repairman arriving late is one who arrives early. Last week I was awakened by a phone call. “Hi, this is Cosmo with What’s Watt Electrical, and I’m running early. Can I come by now?” I inquired, “Where are you?” He replied, “Parked in front of your house.” This segues into one of the mysteries of our fix-it warriors. The truck pulls up to your curb, as usual, its sides plastered with signs so your neighbors know your vodka still isn’t working. You go to the door, and no one is there. The van just sits out front. And sits there. No driver’s door opening, no back of the truck opening either. What’s he doing, eating lunch? Playing games on his smartphone? Probably trying to figure out which is a wrench and which is a screwdriver.
At this point we must consider the warranty. A warranty is something you pay extra for in case what you just bought doesn’t work. This makes no sense, but a warranty can come in handy if, say, you are peeling the legal labels off your new dishwasher (“Do not use for clothes, plants and small pets.”) and it falls over or blows up. But note that most appliances, computers and anything with moving parts breaks the day after the warranty expires.
This is not to criticize all those who fix our problems. The electricians, plumbers, roach stompers (I use a very cheap pest control company) and deliverers of our furniture, kitchen equipment and wet bars, are a necessity. Some even accept my advice. “I think that gizmo goes into that thingamabob,” I say wisely. She nods in agreement. “Yes, this lightbulb screws into this lightbulb socket.” Another repairman solved my mechanical problem by showing me the On and Off switch. Have you escorted a workman out of your house, only to go back to the work spot and discover a hammer or wrench or needle? We must be careful which strangers we let into our house. A friend in the neighborhood had some carpets installed. After the crew departed, he noticed one of them had left his wallet. Searching through it to find a phone number or address, he came upon a court order for the owner’s appearance – in a criminal court.
It is now Friday and I am still waiting and still no repairman. I don’t care what time it is. I need a drink.
Ashby is under warranty at firstname.lastname@example.org