It's not about the house.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

It’s Not Over Yet

On the last day he was here (correction: on the last day we knew that he was here – not either of the days that we didn’t know and he got in god-knows-how), the Kid handed me a warranty card for the boiler, and Johnny said “Now you make sure you send that in, love.”

This is a point of contention between us. When I open up a box – whether it contains a VCR or a ceiling fan, the first thing I do is throw away all the papers that came in it. Maybe – maybe – if, after trying for an hour, I still can’t figure out how to make it minimally work, I might – might – fish through the trash and pull out the instruction booklet. But once I have my answer I throw it out again.

Johnny saves everything forever always. And, although because of his dyslexia he’s more or less incapable of filling out a form, he thinks warranties are the bee’s balls and tries to make me send them in for everything. Stupid suckers he buys off of the TV. Damn drills we get for Christmas. Poxy pig in the new kitchen sink. It isn't hard for me to do this. There’s certainly no reason not to. But I bristle when he makes me, anyway.

This time, though, it actually seemed like a good idea. I’m probably wrong about this, but I would like to imagine that if the blasted boiler busticates while under warranty, they'd have to not only replace it for us, but also pay for labor. That’s probably a pipe dream, but still. The warranty, just this one time, seemed like a good idea. So I filed the card away (i.e., stacked it on the pile on my desk) to deal with later. And, of course, promptly forgot.

When I cleaned my office three weeks ago, I found it and set the thing aside. “Must do this,” I told myself. And then forgot.

The next weekend I finally filled it out. Mostly. Except for the part that said “Model and Serial number,” because those things I didn’t know off the top of my head like I did the rest of it – you know, my name and stuff. I exerted myself as far as looking on the owner’s manual and all the other paper crap that came with it (which I also saved, thank you very much), but it wasn’t on there, either. So I left those spaces blank. Probably that info’s on the boiler itself. I’ll get it later, I said to me. And then (say it with me) I forgot.

One week ago, last Thursday, I found myself with one amazing extra hour after I was clean and dressed but before I had to leave, so I grabbed the warranty card and a pen and trucked my clean-and-dressed down to the basement.

No model or serial number on this boiler, that’s for sure!

I looked. Trust me when I tell you that I looked on all lookable surfaces. Or at least, all lookable surfaces that I wouldn’t have to touch anything else to look at and therefore wind up dirtying my clean-and-dressed. I did have to leave for work, after all, and lord knows I’m always so gosh-darn put-together there (except for the coffee stains, and the torn pants, and oh my god is that spaghetti sauce? When’s the last time I ate spaghetti? Yuck!). I searched front, back, top and two sides, plus the extra little owner's manual tucked in the sticky plastic pocket – you’ll excuse me if I didn’t search the bottom of the two-ton, iron thing – but there was no model or serial number to be found.

So I called the company that made it. Burnham. The same damn company that made the damn other one that up and damn broke on us in April. They weren’t very helpful then, but maybe now, now that I was a brand-new customer, now that I had no complaint but just a simple question – maybe now they would be nicer.


Oh, sure, nice enough when she answered the phone, but as soon as I told her what was up she copped an attitude. “There’s a sticker right on the boiler,” she said. “You just have to read it.”

Oh. Der. Check the boiler for stickers, and then read them. I wish’d I’d’uh thought’uh that — oh, wait. I did! And I also thought to bring the phone down to the basement with me, so…

“Hang on a second,” I said, “I’m looking at the thing right here.”

Ooh, she wasn’t expecting that. I think I even heard her tut her tongue. I went on.

“There’s a sticker on the top: says ‘Caution’ and has a bunch of warnings.”

“Yeah,” she said, her voice rising at the end like I was a two-year-old counting for the first time up to ten.

“There’s one on the side that says ‘Energy guide.’”

“Yeah,” very good, Baby! But I’m getting a little bored with this.

“Then there’s the plastic pouch with the owner’s manual in it – but the numbers aren’t there.”

“Envelope,” she said.

“I’m sorry?”

“It’s not a pouch, it’s an envelope.”

“Oh. Um. Does it matter?”

Silence. This is obviously too stupid to merit a response.

Me again: “Okay, so, um, anyway, then there’s nothing else. Nothing on the other side, or on the front or back.”

“Well,” she said, “sometimes the contractors stick it on the inside panel.”

Oh that makes sense. Put the paper sticker with the numbers on it on the inside. To protect it from getting burned off or dirty or anything, what with all the fire and soot and all that being on the — hey now wait a second…


Not to mention that I don’t know how to open it to see the inside.

“Contact the installing contractor,” she says. “The installing contractor ought to be able to tell you what model and serial number you have.”

“Oh,” I say. “Okay. Thank you.” And now she’s all sweetness and light. It’s not till I hang up that I realize I don’t know if she means the Kid – who I don’t want to talk to anymore – or Keyspan – who, um, doesn’t exactly exist anymore, what with having been bought out by national “no capital letters” grid and everything (I know how they feel. I used to disdain capital letters too. When I was twelve).

Anyway, I didn't want to call the Kid again -- I wasn't exactly banking on him knowing the answer, anyway, even if he was my best friend in the whole wide world and even if he was the "installing contractor" to which she was referring. But neither did I want to end up in the same chasing-down-the-proper-gas-company-phone-number hell that I was in last spring. So I turned to the series of tubes that we affectionately refer to as the interweb.

Turns out Keyspan still exists, but their website has by all accounts forgotten that I do. They have no record of me, and under “customer service” it says to follow a link that has most definitely ceased to be. But there was a form to fill out if I have a question. So I did.

They promise to get back to me within two business days.

This ordeal is actually over now. I wrote this bit last week and then – for reasons I won’t get into here (mostly because I don’t remember what they are) I never posted it. But I do believe this part is long enough. Especially because I’ve decided to go to work today after all. So I will continue the whole to-be-endlessly-continued saga of my boiler when I get home. Or maybe tomorrow. Depending on whether or not my dread disease comes back this afternoon.


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