It's not about the house.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tooling Around

I got home Sunday from a long weekend at Dr. One Friend’s, and before I could ask Johnny why the rhododendron is still standing, he jumped in to inform me the lawnmower’s finally fixed.

Oh, that’s right. You didn't know it was broken. Well, it was. I don’t think I wrote about that little ray of sunshine in my otherwise-pitch-black existence over this past week and a half, because I was too busy fending off puppies and handing out lollipops.

Johnny and I can't decide whose fault it is the damn thing broke, because we can't decide who's responsible for leaving it out in the yard all winter. What's certain is that last summer, for the first time in all the years we've been together, mowing the lawn was finally Johnny’s job. And not for nothing, but in all the years I mowed the lawn, I brought the mower in. Not just after the season, either. Every time.

I used a push-mower all those years, though, and that dull old thing couldn’t have weighed thirty pounds. The one Johnny uses is gas-powered (and before anybody feels compelled to lecture us on greenitude or exercosity, please note: the push mower is as broke as we are, and George gave us the power one for free). The new one’s a lot heavier and more awkward than the old one, and (seeing as how we have no outside access to the basement) bringing it in means carrying it through the house and down what amounts to a set of spiral stairs. Last but not least, in October (because why should October be different than any of the other eleven months?) Johnny had a couple broken ribs.

He says he asked me to help him and I never did. I say if he'd asked, why in heaven's name would I say no? But in the interest of Stopping the Bitching and Getting On With Life, we've called a moratorium on laying blame for now.

The point is that the damn thing did stay in the yard all winter, and when Johnny pulled the cord this spring to start it, it went all French-public-servant on his ass. Which is to say, it blew a puff of smoke at him and went on strike. 

Johnny wheeled it around front (so he could actually see it without the obstuction of knee-high grass) and discovered that it had a leak. How did he make this observation? Why, after two days on the front walk, it left a distinctive stain. (Just to double-test that notion, he moved it over a foot and a half -- and sure enough, two days after that there was another one. Theorem proved!) Armed with this bit of information, Johnny did what we always do at times like these.

He called George.

Our Friend George is a mechanic by trade, and by calling. George can fix anything, anything, from toasters to eighteen-wheelers – though he got his training in the army, so “from transistors to tanks” would probably have been a better choice of words. Whatever. You name it, I’m saying, George can fix it – and if by any chance he can’t, he probably knows where he can get another one for almost-free.

So George came over (this was sometime around the 5th of May), took the leaky hose off, went to the store for new one, and replaced it – showing Johnny all the steps along the way so he could do it all by himself next time. after all, with our life being what it is, you just know there’s going to be a next time. The only thing you cannot know is when.

Like, for instance, would you have ever guessed that as soon as the hose worked we'd discover a bad spark plug?

So George and Johnny went back to the store. George put the new spark plug in, showed Johnny how. Then, with the new hose and plug raring to go, the carburator coughed twice and keeled over.

By this point it was too late, too dark, and just too %$&;#^%! for George. He told Johnny to get the carburetor on his own time and call him when he had it, at which point he’d come back and show him how to put it on.

For little things like tubes and spark plugs, George and Johnny had been going up the street, but for the carburetor – seeing as how this Tool was made by Craftsman – we were going to have to go to Sears. I didn’t even know where there was one, and I was damned if I would go alone. Johnny may not know what he’s talking about in the carburetor department any more than I do, but at least he has a dick to wag around. Me, I’m snake eyes in the Tool department. So to speak.

So while I waited for the carburetor fairy to magically leave one under my (or preferably Johnny’s) pillow, days went by. The weekend rolled around. Weekend rolled past. Johnny went away. Returned. And miraculously, no matter how much time I spent in the backyard bunker cranking that secret handle. the grass did not curl back up into the ground.

Finally, when I came home from work on Monday, we could wait no longer. I may not have time to go to Sears, I reasoned, I may still have no freaking idea where Sears is, but we need to get there now, or else by the time George can make it back to fix the mower he won’t be able to see the AssVac from the road. I looked online and found a Sears, Johnny got the model number off the Tool, and we were on our way.


Very Helpful Sears Lady #1 says she doesn’t know about no carburetors, but if we wait for Sears Gentleman over there, she’s sure he’ll be able to help.

Sears Gentleman says they don’t sell Sears parts at Sears. We have to go to a store that’s called Sears Parts. He can’t tell us where to find one, but gives us an 800-number and says he’s sure they’ll be able to help.

Sears Lady #2 – whom I call from my cell phone standing right in the Sears store – gives me a Sears Parts Store address in the next town over (the next town over from where we are now, mind you; which is three towns away from home – but never mind). She also gives me their phone number, and says she’s sure they’ll be able to help.
Lady #3, who answered the phone at the Sears Parts Store, says “We don’t sell parts to the public, Ma’am.”

It's at this point Johnny and I decide to hit the pub.

On the way, I called back Lady #2 (yes, I was driving while I did it, and no, I don’t care. I really don’t. I was driving to the pub, not from it, and I didn’t hit anybody. Did I? No. So hold your whisht). It was actually not Lady #2 I spoke to, but she was at the same 800-number, so we'll give her the benefit of the dooce.

I asked (this was Johnny’s idea) whether Lady #3 might sell the part to George, seeing as how he was a licensed mechanic and therefore possibly not “the public,” as it were.

Lady #2 (technically #4) said she didn’t see any reason why Lady #3 would've said they don't sell parts to the public. “They are a Parts Store, after all, that’s what they do.”

This is what I’m saying.

“Maybe she just meant they didn’t have the part in stock.”

But I never got that far. I never gave her the model number – or even told her it was a lawn mower. I just told her I was having a problem with a Craftsman Tool. I'm having problems with several of them, now.

Never mind. How long will it take if we order the part to be delivered to our house? Sears Gentleman #1 at Sears Store #1 assured us you’d be able to help with that?

"Shipping times vary on location and availability, ma'am." For all their unhelpfulness, them Sears Ladies are very ma'am-y .

So I read the model number to her. Off the pad, in Johnny's handwriting, over the cell phone, while I was driving to the pub. (Hold. Your. Whisht). She put me on hold for, like, ever, and when she came back said it could be in my mailbox on May 22nd (this was the 11th) or, if I wished, they could expedite for the 14th.

Oh, yes, the 22nd is much too late. There will be lions eating my parents through the living room walls by the 22nd. How much will it be to expedite?

She put me on hold again for even longer, and when we were one stop light from the pub she came back on, thanked me for holding, and said that to expedite the shipping – from the Sears Parts Store in Norwood, Mass, to my house in Weymouth; a distance of 18.1 miles, door to door – would be $110. And eighty cents. Would I like her to place the order?

“A hundred and ten dollars!?” I said. “How much is the part!?”

The carburetor for the Craftsman Tool power mower Model # GOF4SELF, she informed me (getting a little testy, I might add), was eighty bucks.

“For two hundred dollars I could buy a new lawn mower!” I said, sticking fingers in my ears to staunch the bleeding.

Sears Lady #2 (or #4, whatever) was not amused by this revelation. She immediately launched into an explanation (which I never understood), about all the hoops I'd have to jump through in order to be approved to buy the part myself at the Sears Parts Store in twenty minutes, instead of paying $110 to ship it eighteen miles in two days.

A hundred and ten dollars. I could push it eighteen miles with my nose faster than that.

“And you know what?” I said. “For eighty dollars I could buy a brand-new new push mower just like the broken one I used to have!” She wished me luck with that, and I hung up and went into the pub.

Though we weren’t technically at the pub. I drove past the pub while all the rigamorole was still transpiring, and found myself now at a Mexican restaurant down the street. We sat at the bar, told the sob story of our poor ould mower, made a few jokes about getting a pair of goats...

And got a round of Kamikazes on the house.

I’ve never had a Kamikaze before. I don’t even have any idea what one is. But I drank it that night, and I'll tell you what I learned:

A pair of ‘em go a long way towards alleviating sharp pains in the Tool.

There is more to this story, but I’ve been going on too long, and I meant to post it two days ago. I’ll tell you how it ends soon. Soon. In the meantime, Johnny promised me Gorton's fish sticks and Ore-Ida fries for dinner, and we don’t eat Sears-quality food like that too often. If I want to continue to fit in my fat pants, I’d better get my fanny in there while the crispy getting’s good!


poppo said...

They have everything

joanie said...

"it went all french-public-servant on his ass" I just LOVE It when you make me snort my wine up my nose...

Sashimi said...

Awww ....first the Irish Airlines people and now Sears! Poor you :-( But yeeeaa for the Kamikazes! :-D

Something about silver linings..smwhere up there ..

Anonymous said...

I have a spare push mower if you'd like it. You'll have to come and pick it up though.

ege said...

Poppo -- stay tuned...

Joanie -- Welcome! Though it sounds like you've been here for a while. Thanks for snorting!

Sashimi -- I know. Am I just bitching? Yay, Kamikazes!

12 -- I think that might just justify those plane tickets we've been dreaming about. $80 vs $4000... sure!

Hubert said...

I must object, most strenuously, to your characterisation of "French public-servants".

For several years I have employed a French Municipal Accountant to complete my books and allez me along. She has never gone on strike. However, she did inform me that I ought to sue myself for making myself work over 35 hours a week for more than thirteen weeks.

This obliged me to compensate myself for the forced labours. Since the compensation came out of my profits I meant that I was subjected to less taxation and was obliged to give myself a paid holiday.

You may be as rude about the French as you wish. They will reciprocate your rudery. But, please, desist from using a telephonic communicator while driving. It is not big. It is not clever. It is the psychological equivalent of driving under the influence of three double whiskeys. Whiskies. Six ounces of Spirits.

When one has had six ounces of spirits, the last activity that any sane and civilised person should commit to is driving. If one is capable of consuming said quanta of spirit, one is capable of shouting at some public servants to transport your body home in a sedan chair. While shouting loudly.

Sparkle Plenty said...

Zut alors! I had a french telephonic communicator once! Unfortunately, it teased me mercilessly about my French accent (or perhaps the regrettable lack thereof), blew Gauloise smoke in my face whenever I wished to telephonically communicate, and scoffed at my sartorial sense (or perhaps the regrettable lack thereof).

Dang, Ege, I'm so sorry to hear about your Sears nightmare. I think the customer service savvy left with Alvah Roebuck. Am hoping that the situation is resolved by now. Have a great weekend!