Thursday, August 12, 2010

The frustration of trying to fix broken thingamajigs

I have the greatest respect for people who can fix things, because I can't.

In fact, I'm a repair technician's dream. If I try to fix a $50 problem myself, it soon turns into a $100 problem after something snaps off in my hand. Then I end up at the repair shop with the broken-off piece of whatever in one hand and my own pulled-out hair in the other while sobbing incoherently. "I k-k-illed it. I k-killed my toaster!"

Usually, the repair guy takes one look at it, chuckles, holds a tissue up to my nose so I can blow, then takes a screwdriver to whatever appliance I've brought in and turns a screw twice. A bright light appears and it's magically all shiny and new again. "H-how did you do that?" I ask. "It was easy," they reply. "Now hand over a couple of your favourite body parts, a credit card with a big credit limit, a couple of blank cheques, your bank card and PIN number."

Normally, when something breaks, I just run out and buy a new one. Of course, this isn't always possible. When my computer breaks, it's an unmitigated disaster considering all the data it holds and the fact that it's a vital connection to the outside world. I'd rather have no telephone for a week rather than to lose a computer.

A vehicle, of course, is another expensive thing that can't just be replaced every time it breaks down. The same goes for major appliances. The trick is getting a repair person in as soon as possible, especially if it's a refrigerator or freezer . . . or an air conditioner in the summer or furnace in the winter.

I've had plumbers show up who just shake their heads at me, wondering how a grown man can't change a simple round rubber thingy in a tap. If the round rubber thingy was outside the tap, I could probably figure it out, but the thingy is inside the tap. Since I can never figure out how to get access to the thingy, I leave the thingy leak until I'm in danger of turning my house into an ark.

I don't want to live in an ark. I want to live in a house. So I call a plumber who comes over to fix the rubber thingy in the tap. "Very easy," he says. And it is easy. It only takes him a few minutes to install the thingy. I watch intently with the full and utter intention of learning how to change the thingy myself. Afterwards, I'm quite proud of myself because I now know how to fix the rubber thingy inside the tap!

Unfortunately, the next time the rubber thingy breaks is three years later and I've forgotten how to fix it by then.

The sad thing is, I remember thinking, "That was so easy. I can't believe I had to call a plumber. It's a cinch!" But when you forget how to fix a thingy - whether it be in your tap, on your lawn mower, your snowblower or anything else in your house, it doesn't take long to resort to the telephone book or online to find a qualified repair person.

And we all know the law of thingys needing repair. They only break on the weekend when all the repair shops are closed. That's the first rule. The second rule is that they only break when you need them the most. A lawn mower only breaks down when the grass is two feet high and the pope is coming over for lunch. (Hey, it could happen.)

An oven only breaks down on Thanksgiving when there's a turkey in the oven. Try to start your snowblower in July and it purrs like a kitten. It actually rubs up against your leg, too. Try to start your snowblower after a blizzard and it coughs like an old truck that hasn't had an oil change in 30 years, spews black smoke, wheezes and dies right there in front of you.

I really wish I knew how to fix more stuff. I should take one of those community college courses offering tips on minor home maintenance. I could probably save a fortune in repair bills - not to mention a few calls to 911.

"I realize this may not be an emergency to you, madam, but the results of (insert name of latest reality show fad) are on tonight and my television set has broken down." You'll only make this mistake once, however, unless you want to watch television in jail.

When I was a kid, I was pretty good at fixing our old television set, actually. We had a combination radio, LP record player and television . . . a big long thing that took up half the living room. I made magic with that set, adjusting its knobs just right and kicking it a certain way until the picture came back on. Eventually, though, some unnamed thingy would break and we'd have to get professional help.

Since then, however, I've lost my "fixing thingys" mojo. I just can't figure out that stuff. Whether it's the little rubber thingy on the tap, the big metal thingy on the lawn mower or the medium-size plastic thingy on the refrigerator, I'm a strict convert to getting someone qualified to repair them.

I've sent enough repair people to week-long all-expenses-paid vacations to Disney World, thank you very much. In fact, if you listen very carefully, every Thanksgiving during grace at most trades persons' dinner tables, you'll hear, "And God bless Brian for not being able to repair his thingy." This is usually said before their head falls back, their eyes snap open in an eerie trance and dollar signs literally start rolling over their eyeballs while they mysteriously chant the words "Ka-ching! Ka-ching!"

In fact, that's what usually happens whenever I call a repair shop after trying to fix something myself. They drop the telephone and yell to the kids, "We're all going to Disney World after all! Brian Cormier tried to fix something himself!"


Ray Hiltz said...

Very funny post, Brian and I relate to it so much!

You sure we don't have genes in common?

I'm pretty good at plugging stuff into other stuff and McGyvering connections and such for TV & Tech, but I've over twisted and broken off too many faucets to ever think about doing any plumbing repairs.
Better a second mortgage to send the plumber off to Disney World.

With all the trades people you employ, you're showing up Harper's stimulus package.

Thanks for the smile.

Brian Cormier said...

Thanks, Ray. The last plumber who came here to fix something looked at me in a way that I should be ashamed to even call him for what I needed fixed. LOL

Brian Cormier said...

Thanks, Ray. The last plumber who came here to fix something looked at me in a way that I should be ashamed to even call him for what I needed fixed. LOL

Jeff K said...

I almost which I was one who an unable to fix stuff. I can but really really hate too. Seriously. I dryer was making the most awful noise and I new if I would take an afternoon to look at it, I could find the problem. 4 months of saying, next weekend I'll take a look, I finally fixed the damn thing, swearing and bitching the whole time.

Why do I do this? I can't afford to call a repair man.

Your story was funny and enjoyed reading it. They was I see it, if you can afford to pay to have things fixed, do it!