Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Man vs. Machine
I could never be called handy. I think it is genetics, my dad was never much with a hammer and a nail either. If something breaks in my house, the best thing we can do is call the experts. Do we? Not usually until the last second, we are a stubborn and a cheap lot. We think we can, we think we can, we can not.
Cue Sunday morning. Zach my six year old is in the bathroom where he has set up a spa for his action figures. The Rock, Darth Vader and Leonardo from the Ninja Turtles never smelled so good. My partner Amy is using the washing machine, it is set to hot, she is washing cloth diapers. Emily my 10 year old daughter is in her bedroom with the blow dryer styling a Bratz doll's hair. Me, I think I was writing about the 7 deadly sins.
ZAP, POOF, the house went black. A scream here, a what just happened there and I am down in the basement looking for the fuse box. Armed with only a candle and a bbq lighter I rummage around in the dark moldy old basement. This was the first time I had ever been in the basement. The landlord explicitly stated that the basement was off limits. Never a fan of basements, I capitulated. Emergencies are emergencies however, and power is important stuff. With my trusty candle and bbq lighter I was determined to save the day. And I did, so I thought.
After finding the circuit box, I promptly switched all the breakers back to on. BUZZZZZ, HURRAY, problem solved, we have got power, daddy saved the day! Or did he?
We didn't notice that we had no hot water until after supper when we tried to do dishes. Odd, I thought. Back to the basement I went. I looked over the circuit box, I found the circuit marked hot water heater. I shut it off, I shut it on, I went up stairs. Nothing, still no hot water. FUCK! Back downstairs I went. A quick look around the circuit box. I looked for a separate box for the hot water heater. No dice. I walked to the hot water heater. Maybe there was a reset button. Nope. Damn it! I flicked the breaker off and then on again. Waited. Went online, Googled how to repair a hot water heater. Looked, read, nothing made sense. I Twitted and Facebooked, surely somebody would have the answer. Folks had lots of answers, unfortunately none of them were right.
A friend of mine, a handy sorta chap was over visiting. I asked him to take a look at the heater. He did the same sorta things that I had done. Looked at this and that, tried to play follow the wire, shut off and then on the breaker. No dice. It seems I am not a total idiot. Whatever was wrong with the hot water heater needed a professional to diagnosis and then fix. Ugh.
It would be embarrassing for me to admit how long we waited to call for help, so I won't. We are a stubborn lot and we hate to admit defeat. Oh and the fact that my mother-in-law lived upstairs and had hot water, well that eased the pain. But finally we broke down, we called the power company, who then called a private contractor. At about noon two blokes showed up and headed to the basement to investigate. What did they find?
Nothing. There was nothing they could do. They told me that for whatever the reason, there was no power getting to the hot water heater. They were not electricians. I was going to have to call one, they said, if I wanted to fix the problem. Fuck balls! Will we every have hot water again?
The two repair guys, good chaps. Well I got them talking, I got them poking around. The younger fella, he was able to follow the cord from the hot water heater to the circuit box. The one thing that confused him was that it seemed that the cord went up through the ceiling, then back down in a spot. Probably nothing. Or was it a clue?
The repair guys left. Without doing any repairs, and without leaving a bill. Good thing. But I am still left without hot water. Then I started thinking. I wondered if I could figure out where the cord from the hot water heater came up from downstairs. I checked the closet in the kid's room, nothing. I checked the the closet in our room, nothing. I poked around in the bathroom, nothing.
I had just about giving up hope, when I looked at a light switch, that I knew wasn't a light switch. A light bulb went off, then burst in my mind. POP! Could it have been that easy the whole time? I flicked the switch, giggled, shook my head. I turned on the tap for the hot water. Cold at first, still cold, is it getting slightly warmer? Switched hands, made sure. By gawd it was. I won, I won! It took a long time, it was made a lot harder than it ever should have been, but damn it, it was me who figured it out. Twas all a matter of Amy thinking that this 'dead switch' was on for no reason. As easy and as hard as that. So yes I am not all the handy, but somehow I get by on dumb luck. We all have our gifts.