Welcome to Big Old Goofy World . . . a place where I can share my thoughts, hopes, and dreams about this rock that we live on and call home.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Handy Man--NOT!

The males species of Keeners are not mechanics, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, bricklayers, or anything that resembles a handyman--never have been, never will be.  I know that this is true for me. This is a shame because in the past few months we have experienced a myriad of issues with the house that have needed a competent handyman.  Being of the male species the first instinct is to fix it myself--that's what men do, they fix things.  It is a genetic code wired in men to try and fix things whether they have the skills or not--our maleness hinges on this.  Which is a shame because I have a tendency to escalate the problems more than fix them, but I do get my money's worth when I finally break down and call the professionals.

The first issue to arise was the stove in the kitchen--the oven element fried itself and stopped working. Actually, that is not quite true--it burned out like a sparkler as it started on one side of the element and chased itself around to the other side.  Being the resourceful guy that I was I wanted to stop it from doing this in order to remove it for replacement.  Even when turned off it kept sparking and moving itself around the element, so I decided that the best thing to do was to douse it with water.  Yeah, I know . . . electric fire is not meant to be put out with water.  Oh well . . . luckily it stopped on its own.  The stove did not burn down.  The house did not burn down.  Only my pride went up in flames.  The fix was eventually completed as we went into the big city to get a new element that should have just plugged in and worked . . . except for two little wires that were in the wall of the stove that connected to the element.  Needless to say neither one was easy to connect.  Thankfully our neighbor--the professional carpenter was home and was able to fix what I had started.  What had taken me several hours to mess up, he fixed in thirty minutes.  The cost was fifty bucks for the new element and a nice bottle of wine.  My masculinity took a major hit in what should have been a simple job.

Next to go was the gas clothes drier--it quit tumbling and wasn't drying any clothes.  Of course before admitting that I knew nothing about gas clothes driers I did what any respectable male would do--I went down to the basement, yanked as much of it apart as I could, and stood there cussing at it.  It didn't fix anything, but sure made me feel better.  It was a means of saving some of my masculinity before admitting defeat and calling in a professional.  Now, calling a professional handyman to fix anything where we live is an adventure in futility.  We live in the "no service" area of Montana--just a little too far from the big city that makes most handymen not willing to come without charging the big bucks.  We were told it would take at least a week before a handyman could come and fix it--then the service wrote down the wrong date.  Instead of scheduling us for a week from when we called, we were scheduled for five weeks later.  This did not make the wife happy and the handy man ended up coming on a Saturday--without the necessary parts to fix it.  So we ended up waiting another week and even that was not assured--it all depended on whether or not the parts would arrive on the day the handyman was scheduled.  Thankfully for everyone involved they arrived, the handyman was able to make the repair, and we now have a functional clothes drier.  The cost?  Two hundred bucks for the service call, several dollars spent at the local laundry mat, and having my masculinity chopped down a few more notches.

At about the same time that the gas clothes drier went out the hot water heater decided to join the party.  This is the second time since we moved in that the hot water heater went out.  Cold showers are nasty, luckily the day it went out I was the first one in the shower and actually got a hot shower.  It pays to be the first one up!  But everyone else in the house was quite upset.  The guy who came to fix the drier said it was the copper coil in the element that needed to be replace.  Our other neighbor--the retired handyman--said it was the copper coil in the element that needed to be replaced.  They all said it was a piece of cake to replace as they smiled at me.  The challenge was made and the adventure began.  The last time I worked on the water heater I did everything just as the instructions said, but it still wouldn't work.  A handyman from the gas company came in, reversed the two wires I had hooked up backwards, and everything was fine.  This time the screws wouldn't go in.  What should have taken about an hour ended up spanning several hours of the evening.  Needless to say, when I finally got the screw to screw down it worked!  The cost?  Several embarrassing trips to the neighbor for instructions and support, much higher blood pressure, and a blue streak that came close to revoking my ordination.  It was a major hit to my masculinity--my manhood was fading fast.

The most recent was the kitchen sink's faucet.  For some reason the faucet decided to shoot the water out the base instead of through the spout.  My reaction at 9:00PM was not pleasant and was quite profane.  I had a funeral the next day, plumbers are few and far between in the "no service" land where we live, and I was in no mood for minor floods in the kitchen.  Needless to say phone calls to four different plumbers went unanswered as our sink was waterless.  So being the fine male species I am, I ripped the faucet apart.  Man, I did not realize that there were so many parts to a faucet!  A quick trip across the street to the retired handyman I quickly learned that it was probably the O-rings and, if not, it would be a complete replacement of the faucet.  A trip to the big city for new O-rings, several feeble attempts at replacing the O-rings, and putting it all back together resulted in water spewing out the sides of the faucet.  Thankfully, despite my male pride taking a major hit, the retired neighbor handyman agreed to come over and see what I did wrong.  Despite suppressing his laughter the whole time he accomplished in thirty minutes what I had been attempting to do for several hours.  The cost? A semi-expensive meal at the local eatery to keep the wife happy while the sink was unusable, a couple of bucks for new O-rings, whatever was left of my masculine pride, and pretty much my ordination.

I am not a handyman despite the encouragement of my wife and neighbor to give things a try.  I am worse than Tim the Tool Man from the popular television show Home Improvement.  I am a disaster waiting to happen when it comes to home repairs.  This only means that I often get my money's worth when a real handyman arrives--for that I cannot complain.  I am learning that real men are not afraid to admit that they are not everything and anything--especially when it comes to being handy around the house.  I figure in about another ten years or so I will be able to swallow my male pride and admit it.  In the meantime I am learning that the "Handyman's Creed" is my creed whenever anyone in the house asks me to fix something.

I can swear with the best of them!  It's just the way we Keener men are wired!

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