Friday, February 4, 2011

A Useful Thing to Know

My father was a prodigiously handy man. There was nothing he couldn't fix, nothing related to a house that he didn't know how to do. But he didn't train my sister and me in his footsteps. Instead, we were pampered little princesses - my mother called us "little angel number one" and "little angel number two" - and well into my twenties, my father would come and take care of house-related tasks for me, like hanging curtains (he even had a patent on a device he had invented that had something to do with curtain rods). And then I got married, to a very handy man. And then I was alone, the least handy person who ever lived.

Now, born of painful experience, there are several things I know how to do, or at least that I know how to tell Christopher to do.

I now know how to jump-start a battery on a car. I have never actually done it myself - affixed the actual clamps to the actual battery nodes - but I have had it done by Christopher under my supervision.

I now know that there is a filter on the furnace that should be changed periodically, at least more often than the three years that elapsed before I first realized this. Again, I have never done this myself - it's very difficult to get the little door-thing open on the furnace to slip the filter in - but I have purchased filters of the appropriate size and shape and commissioned Christopher to do the rest.

And last night I learned in a sad, hard way where the main turnoff is for the water in my house. Frozen pipes led to some kind of dishwasher malfunction that caused my dishwasher to fill up without ceasing, and without draining, leading to their being vast quantities of water all over my kitchen floor. And I don't own a wet-dry vac. And I only own some twenty very large and absorbent towels which were hardly enough to sop it all up.

But then I called a friend's husband, and he talked me through turning off the water for my house. After one false attempt, which led only to my turning off the pilot light on the hot water heater and causing there to be no hot water in my house, I managed to find the correct faucet to turn; I even discovered that it had been helpfully labeled "main water shutoff" by the kindly man who did my home buyer's inspection three years ago. And I shut off the water myself, with no assistance from Christopher. (The plumber who came at ten last night, bless him, re-lit the pilot light on the hot water heater for me, and he's going to fix the dishwasher and make any number of wondrous and expensive improvements in the various antiquated pipes and things under my sink.)

So this is one very useful thing I now know how to do, added to the two very useful things that I know to tell someone else to do.

But I hope I have no urgent occasion to learn any more very useful things any time soon.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, my. You make me ache with sadness and laugh at the same time. Some days I feel like there is nothing I know how to do, so I can really relate.