Wednesday, December 11, 2013


I'm not handy.  I'm not inept, but I'm not handy.  I'm also somewhat disorganized when I tackle projects.  It's weird, because I'm often paralyzed by organization leading into a project, researching methods, reading instructions, gathering tools, purchasing missing items, and then the project finally begins, and it's like those comic strips where the dog and the cat get into a fight and there's a giant cloud of dirt and lightning bolts and spirals come out of it and you are led to believe that some major shit is going down.  Only it's with tools and papers and pencils and ..."apparatus".

So my hot water heater broke down.  It's new as of July, and my dad and I installed it, but I paid him in beer, so when I called for technical assistance and they asked whether it was professionally installed I said yes.

Apparently though the problem had nothing to do with the substandard contractor I paid and everything to do with a defective damper valve.  They promptly arranged to ship me a new one after I explained what was going on with error lights and sight glasses and funny "PING!" noises.  Regardless I was able to get the heater going within a half hour of talking to them and when they sent the new damper assembly to me I figured I'd have a "spare".

The part arrived a few days later and I took it down to my basement to store.

Two days later the water heater stopped working and I couldn't get it started.  Leslie and I were headed out to Christmas shop, but my in-laws needed hot water to give Lily a bath.  I decided I'd immediately install the new damper assembly. 

What followed was essentially a complicated shell game, but where there were no shells, and the ball underneath was actually a flash light.

I had a screw driver, a flashlight, and a set of instructions.  I put the flashlight down to open the instructions.  I closed the instructions and couldn't find the flashlight.  I found it on the floor and picked it up to look at the screws holding the assembly to the top of the water heater.  I shone the beam on the screws as I loosened them.  I put the flashlight down to collect the screws.  I couldn't find the flashlight.  I found it on top of the refrigerator and picked it up to shine it on the hood.  I saw sheet metal tabs that needed to be bent back from the hood in order to remove it.  I set the flashlight down and climbed on a stool to bend the tabs.  I removed the hood and couldn't find the flashlight.  I found it on the toolbox.

This went on until I finished installing the damper.  Every time I would put down one tool in particular in order to use a different tool...the first tool would disappear.  Typically it was the flashlight.  In the end I couldn't find the flashlight but we were in a hurry to get out the door and so I just stacked everything on top of the dryer, restarted the hot water heater, saw with pride that it lit and remained on, and went shopping.

The next day I started a load of laundry, so I cleaned up the tools and instructions, sliding them off the dryer, putting the instructions away on a shelf and depositing the tools in the toolbox.  I ran the washing machine and came back a half hour later to transfer it to the dryer...

...which is when I found the flashlight, clean as a whistle, in the drum of the washing machine with the clean clothes.  Big credit to still works.

still works!


  1. But where was the apple you were eating while fixing the hot water heater?

  2. Replies
    1. He's not that sort of entity. He has decorum.

  3. SMH. Sounds like someone needs to get you one of those flashlight hats for Christmas. LOL!