It's not about the house.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Remember that radio we got for Christmas? The one that broke the other day while I was bitching about my gloves? Well, check this out....

I'd just given the cat a bath (and then I dressed her up in a little outfit. I also play D&D and collect hummel figurines. No. The cat has dry skin and she suffers, so I can either sweep up a Pig Pen trail of dandruff behind her everywhere she goes, or I can give her the Head & Shoulders treatment every month or so. I choose the baths. Anyway,) the miserable wet cat decided the best place to recover from her humiliation was on my desk chair, and I decided letting her hold on to some semblance of dignity was more important than getting the writing done that I was supposed to do this afternoon (plus, you know, any excuse is a good excuse for procrastination. The longer I ramble on here, for example, the less likely I'll get to that before Johnny's student shows up for her guitar lesson, so hang on...).

So I'm futzing around the house, trying to decide if I ought to make a salad for dinner with my new free time, or just plop down on the couch and watch television, when I happen by the radio that's broken.

Now, this morning I went out for a minute and came back to a greeting from Johhny of "you blew the speakers on that little radio the other night."

Well, no I didn't. I did drag the little boom box out into the living room the other night while Johnny was at the pub, and I did listen to Under the Cherry Moon and Small Change and Chicago (the musical, not the band) really, really, really loudly -- he walked in on me dancing around, that's how he knew -- but I did not blow the speakers. First of all, the little boom box cost about $20 something like five years ago, it doesn't go up loud enough to blow its own speakers; second, it actually broke last year and I bought a new one to replace it but Johnny so can't stand to through anything away that he picked it out of the trash; and third, I don't even know what he's talking about, the speakers are working just fine. Nu-uh, I said, I didn't break it.

So I'm banished from my office by a wet angry cat and I'm all in a tiff about the cheapy-ass radio, and I decide now is a good time to deal with the other radio -- the not cheapy-ass one that really is broken.

I pick up the booklet, which has been sitting on top of the radio since the day we set it up, and discover that for a mere $19.95 (plus the cost of shipping the broken one back) we can return the broken radio and get one that actually works -- but only if it's been less than 90 days since it was purchased, and only if we call first for an authorization, and only the person who actually bought it can call, and we have to have the receipt.

Well, it was a present. Ordered (I assume on line) from the other side of the country and shipped straight to us. We got it -- I just checked the box (which we kept because, like I've said before, these things always happen to us) -- on December 12. So there are a few weeks left until our 90 days are up, except who knows when it was ordered or how long they took to ship it so oh my gosh, I better step on it! I don't think they'd have much sympathy for the fact that it's broke almost two weeks ago and I only just now got around to doing anything about it.

Except there's still that little matter of the receipt, and the fact that only the person who bought it can call. Oh gosh I hate to bother her, she's going on vacation in two days and it's the first time off -- not just her first vacation but actually the first day she hasn't gone to work including weekends and holidays -- in something like 67 days. But then, she is going on vacation, and by the time she gets back we might have run out of our 90 days...

Is it better to bother the person who bought you the present or is it better to just keep the broken thing?

I decided to call the company, see if I couldn't beg them into letting me handle this myself, without a receipt, before bothering my poor, bony-fingered friend. When I asked the operator for the returns department she gave me technical assistance, which was a little bit annoying, but the guy had a charming southern accent (southern America, I mean, not southern India or Pakistan), so that took me down a couple notches on my hissy meter.

I couldn't find a model number on my radio or the booklet that came with it, but he asked me a bunch of questions and figured out which one I had. I was tempted to give him the wrong answers so I could hear him drip that Tupelo-honey accent a while longer, but if there's one thing I've learned these past few years it's to never tempt the fates. Tell the truth. Everything's going to hell anyway. Might's'well not deliberately set out to make it worse.

So we figured out what model radio I have and then I told him what was wrong. "I have some volume, but only a very little bit and it won't get any louder. I can turn it down to nothing, and back up to that very little bit, so it's not the controls or the connections, but I can't make it go any louder than, say 2 on a scale of 1-10."

"Okay," he said. "I know just what's wrong. Are you near it?"


"Turn it on," I did, "and hit the cd/radio button," I did--

And the radio BLARED, SO LOUD I HAD TO LUNGE FOR THE REMOTE AND SWITCH IT BACK TO cd so I could talk to him again.

"See?" he said, "You had it on cd."

Well, no I didn't. I had it on radio. First of all, I heard the radio; second, I switched it back and forth from cd to radio a bunch of times trying to make it work myself; and third, when I did have it on cd, I heard the cd. I did not have it on cd this whole time. Nuh-uh, I didn't.

I took a breath to say all this and then I thought, you know what? What difference does it make? It works now. I don't have to send it back, and I don't have to bother Charlie. Maybe it was never broken in the first place, maybe it still is. At any rate this southern gentleman's done his job and there's nothing to be gained from fighting with him about it, so I just let it go.

See? Maybe I'm learning yet.

Honestly, though, I'm just thrilled to find out something that I thought was broken, isn't. Maybe I'm not cursed, maybe I'm not a jinx on inanimate objects, maybe I don't carry a poltergeist around in my hip pocket. Maybe I'm just nuts. Or stupid. Stupid would explain it, too.

When I told Johnny about all this, his response was, "So if it happens again after our 90 days are up we're screwed?"

Well, yeah man. It is still our radio, after all.

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