When I began this blog well over a year and a half ago, the idea was to chronicle our experiences as we moved to our first real house in our late fifties. I figured that our ignorance about the inner workings of a home (and by “our” I mean “my”) would provide plenty of opportunities for self-effacing humor.
But once we got settled in and figured out how everything worked (and by “figured out how everything worked,” I mean “figured out who to call to fix stuff”), I occasionally went off topic to discuss things like, to use one recent example, Hostess Twinkies.
However, one morning right before Thanksgiving, I was snapped back into my true identity as an incompetent homeowner by the appearance in the kitchen at 6am of my daughter clad only in a towel. This is an unusual occurrence, since she generally appears clad only in pajamas.
“Dad,” she said, causing me to look up from the newspaper, “is there something wrong with the water?”
“Why?” I replied.
“Because it’s not getting hot.”
“Then, yes, there’s something wrong with the water.”
She did her “dad is so exasperating” combination facial expression and sigh. Then, just to let her know that I’m not a complete moron, I added, “Probably something to do with the furnace.”
“Do you know how to fix it?” she asked.
“No clue,” I replied, knowing my limitations. This sent her back downstairs in a towel-covered huff.
When my wife Barbara woke up, I gave her the news, and then I followed her downstairs because, well, I thought I’d act interested.
Downstairs, besides being where my daughter lives, is where all the mysterious mechanical stuff is (and by “mechanical stuff,” I mean “large machines that look like they’ve been down there since before the house was even built and which I’m deathly afraid to touch for fear that I will gravely injure myself in some way or else incur several thousand dollars in repair costs”).
“The furnace,” I said as we marched past patio furniture that we had brought inside before Hurricane Sandy and may never put outside again, “is that the thing in the garage?”
“No,” Barbara replied. “Why do you ask?”
“I assumed the lack of hot water had something to do with the furnace.” I assumed this because I associated the furnace with all things hot.
Barbara did her “my husband is such an idiot” combination facial expression and sigh, which is remarkably similar to our daughter’s “dad is so exasperating” combination facial expression and sigh. “No, that would be the hot water heater.”
We had evidently arrived at said apparatus, since Barb had stopped in front of a vertical, gray tank-like object with about a dozen various warning labels plastered all over it. We both stared at it for a moment. She plied off the front of the thing (which I wouldn’t have dared to do) and then pressed a red button (which I really wouldn’t have dared to do). Nothing happened (and by “nothing happened” I mean “nothing obvious happened but for all I know it triggered some sort of failsafe countdown that will result in the complete implosion of the house in 5…4…3…”).
“It was installed in 1998,” Barb said. “It probably needs to be replaced.” We got married in 1983, so I can only imagine what she thinks about me.
Fortunately, we had a home warranty. Unfortunately, actually using the warranty meant calling a service and waiting for up to 24 hours for them to call back and schedule an appointment with some guy who comes from, like, 30 miles away, who would then probably first have to order a new heater, then set up an appointment to come back and install it, and we kind of thought we’d like to be able to take showers before Christmas. That’s where those home warranties get you: they cover all the essential equipment in your home, and then, when something breaks, it takes so long for the warranty people to respond, you end up calling someone else, because you really can’t go that long without that particular item, precisely because it is essential, which is why you bought the warranty in the first place.
So we called a local plumber who said he’d be over later that day. He was, and he installed the thing, and I was able to take a shower that evening, and, hopefully, I will not see my daughter in a towel at 6am any time again soon.
But this whole episode was a reminder to us not to get too comfortable because we are still learning the ins and outs of home ownership (and by “still learning the ins and outs of home ownership” I mean “I’m still an idiot”).
See you soon.