Thursday, January 12, 2006

The breaker breaker

My role as “Mr. Fix-it” around the house was again enhanced, when, a few months ago, I changed the cover on our doorbell without any assistance whatsoever from a professional in the field of doorbell cover replacement. Of course, this task took me about twenty minutes, and I did seek confirmation of what to do when I realized that one of the screws was attached to several wires. I even debated turning off all the power in the house before I loosened the screw, until it occurred to me that I would have had to seek assistance for THAT as well, since I have no clue where there exists a “central power system” in our house. I assumed it was somewhere in our laundry room, where there is an intricate series of knobs, levers, hot water heaters, pipes, switches, and the like, all of whose functions were adequately explained to me several times from several different people when we bought our house, to which I nodded my head in agreement. “Of COURSE I know what knob to turn in case our collateral left faucet breaker starts leaking! What do you think I am – an idiot?” Anyway, upon further review, I decided not to search and destroy our power source, but instead went with my normal philosophy when attempting to do, well…pretty much anything, which is, “* # @ ^ it.” This particular time, it worked, although, usually, “* # @ ^ it” ends with a call to my father or father-in-law to come over for coffee, and, if they remember, to bring their tool set. The point is, I fixed the doorbell cover, and I was proud. It was a fleeting moment however, because things have been pretty much downhill since then.

Over the summer, we gave our “HVAC” system a makeover of sorts. HVAC stands for “heating, something that begins with ‘v,’ air conditioner,” for the layman. Anyway, our AC was blowing lukewarm air, and we had to call someone to come over, and, for lack of a better term, fiddle with it. He did, and he fixed it, but he also informed us that we needed a new filter for our heating system. Que?

Our heating system is one of the larger appliances in our house that I pray never breaks, because I am very scared of it. I would sooner start looking for a new house than attempt to fix a monstrosity that operates by magically igniting a system of burners. When the guy told me that we needed a new filter for this thing, he very kindly went out of his way to show me how to replace it, which, in “normal masculine guy” time takes approximately 5.6 seconds. Of course, I stopped paying attention when he said, “You might have to use a screwdriver to undo this hinge.” After we purchased the replacement filters, they sat in our laundry room for, no joke, three months, until we invited my wife’s uncle over for coffee, and casually showed him our new filters. 5.6 seconds later, wa-la.

Needless to say, my wife is very impressed with my handiness. And she was never as thrilled as she was a few weeks ago, when I attempted to speed up the cycle of our dishwasher by turning the knob while it was operating. (Again, * # @ ^ it.”) Our dishwasher has a knob that lets you know at what point the cycle is in, and I figured if I assisted this lazy knob in its journey to the end, we could leave the house faster. Using my philosophy, an entire dishwashing cycle can be completed as fast as a human can turn a knob, which, right now, doesn’t make any sense. Right then, it did. All I can really say about this matter is that it didn’t necessarily work, and almost ended in divorce. When the cycle ended, our dishes were soaking in a pool of water; water that, I can only assume, is adequately drained when the knob is left untouched. Whatever.

Now, the previous matter aside, I am usually not the one to harm those things that operate within our house, regardless of how poor my skills are at fixing them when they do malfunction. In fact, my wife was the culprit recently, when, while attempting to blow-dry her gorgeous, flowing mane, she short-circuited our entire block. I don’t know what kind of voltage is in a hair-dryer, but I am fairly certain that it was enough to recharge stalled tankers during Operation Desert Storm. This particular blackout was so bad that several small, metal springs actually popped out of the outlet she was using, something that doesn’t even happen when my electric nose-hair trimmer is at full-blast. Anyway, luckily for her, her husband was around. Having a father adept in the electrical field, I am very familiar with many of the terms to use during such occasions, like, “trip the breaker,” and “break the circuit tripper,” and “circuit the break loop,” and “trick the circuit break.” Unfortunately, I don’t know what any of these terms mean, although I did know that there was a circuit something in – you guessed it! – our laundry room. I tried flipping some of the switches, all the while wondering whether or not I was cutting off a power source in some foreign country, but nothing worked. Then my wife called my father-in-law, and over the phone, he was able to guide my wife to the correct switch to turn, something his son-in-law couldn’t do live and in person. Whatever.

Currently, there is an incessant buzzing sound coming from – you guessed it! – our laundry room. I have no idea what it means, or where it is coming from, or if we should evacuate the premises. I am pretty much just hoping that it stops on its own. No luck so far, but I’ll let you know.

Some may consider these occurrences quite embarrassing for your average, warm-blooded, male. But quite frankly, I don’t care. I just wasn’t born with these skills, and it’s too late in life for me to acquire them now. I give up. Besides, that is what family and friends are for – to casually invite over for various occasions so we can trick them into fixing the things that I am too stupid to fix. So if you ever get an invite to our place, don’t forget your tool set.

And feel free to use the doorbell.

But, just to be safe, wear gloves.

4 comments:

CMB said...

That was so freakin funny! Now I know why you invited Steve over on Saturday. We love you guys!

Anonymous said...

we decided on monday night that the toilets and the heater are ganging up on us to try to get us to move. we actually just said to each other that if steve can't figure it out on saturday we'll have to call the heating guy to check it out.

Amy D'Alonzo said...

I was just looking at pictures of your house from Cara..... it is so nice! Next time I am home, I would love to come over so Andrew can help Mike fix something.

Romulus Augustus said...

Mike,

The circuit breaker, the box with the knobs, will have one large knob that is generally marked "Main." To turn the power off turn the knob in the opposite direction. The better think to do would be to turn the power off to that circuit specifically, but learn in baby steps.