Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Ms. Fix-It

Not long ago, a friend was telling me about her what-turned-out-to-be-disgruntled washer repair man. The short story is that she had a problem with her washer and suspected what was causing it. But the repairman wouldn’t listen to her theory. He misdiagnosed the problem. He changed out the wrong part. The machine still didn't work. My friend had to call and request that the repair man come back again.

Mr. Maytag, his man-pride likely hurt after being emasculated by one who was not only a non-washing machine repair person but also a WOMAN, started giving her a hard time about it over the phone. So she did what any self-respecting customer would do: she hung up and called his boss. AFTER WHICH THE REPAIR PSYCHO CALLED HER BACK AND YELLED AT HER BECAUSE HE HAD TO COME BACK AGAIN TO ACTUALLY FIX THE PROBLEM. I'm sorry, did I offend you by insisting that you do what I'm paying you to do?

Look, I was in customer service for about 20 years, but regardless, I'm thinking most people would see this action as not-very-customer-friendly. And now my friend had to let this guy back into her home? While she was alone with her kids and her husband was at work? What is the world coming to when you feel threatened by the Maytag repair man?

Suffice it to say that the supervisor took care of the “personnel” problem as well as the washing machine problem. But the whole thing got me to thinking. In this day and age, when we tell our kids not to talk to strangers but are willing to let people we don’t know into our homes, there’s something to be said for being able to take care of these things yourself. Especially if you don't have a gun permit. Cost savings aside, the last thing you want to worry about when an appliance is broken is whether your repair man is going to turn out to be Mr. Fix-It or Psycho Killer. I love my journalist friends, but not enough to sacrifice myself for their headlines.

And of course, there’s the bonus feeling of accomplishment when you CAN fix something yourself.

For example, last year when my washing machine started acting up, I did some research to find out what it would cost to get a repairman to come out, diagnose and fix the problem. When it turned out to be roughly twice what we paid for the machine itself, I decided to do even more research. It seems my agitator wasn’t agitating. I’m a mom, so I know from agitation. Thanks to the magic of the Internet, I was able to look up pictures of the agitator’s insides, diagnose which piece wasn’t working, figure out where to buy it and print out step-by-step instructions for replacing it.

Yes, yes, I know. But I figured if it didn’t work, all it would cost me was an hour of my time and six bucks in parts.

The good news is, it worked. My machine was once again as agitating as my children. And the best part about it was not actually telling my husband how much money we’d saved. It was swinging my tool-belt-laden hips in a come-hither way while waving my cordless power drill and telling him I had fixed the washing machine myself. The POWER! The ADRENALINE! I was ready to change the oil in both cars.

And, now that I no longer own a gun, the fact that I didn’t have to let some strange man into my home was also a plus. Of course, once the washer was fixed, I had to go back to doing laundry again… But I’ll take that over fear of bodily harm any day.


Snowbrush said...

A gun permit? Are you saying that, in New York, you have to get a permit to even own a gun?

Christine Orchanian Adler said...

Oh, yesiree you do. And the county I live in makes it toughest and takes the longest. When I lived in CT, I had a permit and a handgun. When I moved back to NY, it was to get married. Getting a permit was so time-consuming and problematic that I gave up and sold the gun.

Snowbrush said...

In the mid-seventies, Peggy and I walked over into Canada at Buffalo. I was a little concerned about leaving my revolver in the truck, so I asked the American guard if he thought it would be okay there, or if I should carry it with me into Canada. He looked at me as if I had asked him if he enjoyed having sex with his mother, but he didn't give me a hard time. Of course, it was a stupid question given where I was, but I had seldom been out of Mississippi, didn't know much about other ways of thinking about guns, and had carried guns for many years.

Christine Orchanian Adler said...

Not a stupid question--you go with what you know. In retrospect, it's actually pretty funny. I'm glad the guard didn't give you a hard time. Just imagine how that scene would play out today! The times, nay, the world, it is a changin'.

Snowbrush said...

I don't know that it was the times so much as the guard. I would guess the New York had strict gun control laws even then. However, the guard was a federal employee, and I wasn't trying to smuggle anything, so maybe that made the difference. If he had been a state officer, maybe he would have felt duty-bound to bust me.