Sometime in the last week the dishwasher, which had been limping along with intermittent doses of “percussive maintenance” ( which here may be defined as Joe alternately shaking and kicking the thing) entirely gave up and quit with even the pretence of draining. Joe and I cursed, swore, brandished a screwdriver at it, looked at 87 websites on dishwasher repair (again) and finally declared that we were going to have to hire a repair guy. Then we looked at our bank account and washed dishes by hand until the reek coming from the appliance in question at least brought home that we were going to have to have it looked at – and before it spawned a new life form.
This morning I picked an appliance guy out of the book based on the fact that he was in my neighbourhood, and awaited his arrival with bated breath. Joe and I had several conversations about “how far we would go”, which, as anyone who owns an appliance knows, is sort of the mechanical version of a DNR order. Plan in force, we waited.
At 4:00 sharp, the repair guy turned up. (The fact that he arrived exactly when he said he would was incredible) and he came into the kitchen and started to look at the dishwasher, and I was suddenly so overcome with anxiety about the whole thing that I had to go sit in my office, which is off of the kitchen so wasn’t really as far away as would have helped, but at least meant that I wasn’t hovering over this poor guy. I sat at my desk and pretended to work and thought things like “Oh man. Oh seriously. Oh let this come in under our DNR price because there is no way another new appliance is coming in here for quite a while. Please, fates that govern appliance well being. I’m sorry for what I said about the fridge. I still miss Sir Washie. The trim around the basement door has never been re-installed and the chunk of drywall that we removed is still in the hall. Please, don’t do this. There is no way to know what will happen to my sanity, my doorframes and my marriage if I need another appliance. Spare me the indignity of crying in front of this man….” and because I was a little worn down by the neck thing… I really did worry about crying in front of him. (I’m a McPhee. We don’t cry in front of appliance people. We cry in the bathtub where no-one can see us.) I sat there, knitting a little and hoping a lot, and then I heard it.
He sighed, and I went nuts. Sighing, sighing was bad. Sighing was terrible. Then he left for More Tools, and I thought – that’s it. That’s the appliance equivalent of the crashcart careening down the hall of the hospital and the way you can tell that your dishwasher is about to go the way of the guy in the red shirt standing near Captain Kirk – and I got a little dizzy and to make myself feel better I started imagining the worst thing. Dude is going to call me in there, and he’s going to tell me that the repair is more than our DNR price. A lot more. Enough more that we can’t kid ourselves, and then just like Joe and I agreed, I’m going to ask him to drain it so that it stops being a reeking fetid pool of dishslag, pay him his $45 service fee, and wish him well. Then, and only then, I will lie down under the dining room table and weep softly until it’s time to use the really nice lavender dish soap I bought, at which point I will meditate on the loveliness of doing dishes by hand and being connected to the real work of things, and feel grateful that I am even lucky enough to have dishes to wash and running water to wash them in. Yes. That is The Plan, and just as I am feeling recovered, and I have properly imagined myself taking the whole thing really well, he calls me into the kitchen, and I smooth my hair, and take a deep breath… and I go.
When I get there, he shows me this:
(Pen for scale) This is the small collection of articles that were together, completely immobilizing the “hose valve” and not allowing the dishwasher to drain. Collectively, they are: a small piece of string (maybe yarn, I deny everything) a small chunk of a cabletie (Joe denies everything) a hunk of pistachio shell and and a chip out of a coffee cup. (Nice little window into our lives, isn’t it?) He disassembled the dishwasher, freed up the valve and handed me a bill. Now, I was worried, on account of a repair guy just called me into the kitchen and told me that my dishwasher was fixed without giving me an estimate first, and that could mean that I’m going to be selling a lot of stash to get out of this one, and the world goes a little dark around the edges, and I say “What do I owe you?” and he looks at me and he says (Get this. This is the incredible part.)
“Well, let’s see. The service call is $45 – so what do you say we call it $65?”
I stared at him. An appliance repair guy who’s speaking to me in numbers with two digits? Sixty Five? I look at him and try and figure out if he means 65 thousand, or 65 hundred, and then it hits me.
He’s fixed my dishwasher for $65. That doesn’t happen. It just doesn’t. I’ve been a grown-up for a while, and I know it’s never happened to me, and I tell you what, I don’t think it happened to my friends either, because the minute that guy left I phoned up Rachel H and I said “DUDE IT WAS $65” and Rachel said “What? To take it away? To talk about it? To take off his shoes? What?” and I had to tell her about eight times that it was $65 to fix the dishwasher… as in, he came to the house. He fixed the dishwasher, and I gave him $65, total, as in Not A Downpayment. and Rachel H couldn’t get over it either. I mean really. It’s like… crazy talk. It’s like… a contractor who shows up every day, then comes in ahead of budget and on time.. or… a woman who goes to the doctor and gets told that she’s actually not 37 weeks pregnant, she’s 40 weeks pregnant and it’s over. We dream of these things, we imagine them, but they don’t really happen to people.
This is how urban legends get started. I mean, a dishwasher repair for $65 DOLLARS. Please. I almost checked myself on Snopes before I called Joe. Think of it. This is the sort of thing your friends tell you when you’re worried about your appliances. Things like “No, no… It doesn’t have to be that bad. I knew a guy who knew this lady, I think she was a knitter or something, I dunno, but she totally called a repair guy and it was $65 bucks” and then everybody feels better, even though we all know it’s a lie, just like the lady who really actually did get money from Bill Gates for sending around a chain letter, or the thing about gum staying in your stomach for seven years if you swallow it.
Except this one is true. $65. Dudes.
(PS. My neck is a little better. Thanks for all the advice. Cold, massage, ibuprofen, and resting helped a lot.)