Uppermost House: The faucet games

 

ARMED AND READY for the faucet games, columnist Peter Lewis.

ARMED AND READY for the faucet games, columnist Peter Lewis.

By S. Peter Lewis

BN Columnist 

There aren’t many things that make me want to shove cloves of garlic under my eyelids or stuff live hornets in my ear muffs, but somewhere in the world there is an engineer who sits behind an array of fancy computers loaded with the latest CAD software and tinkers all the livelong day making decimal points and electrons do his bidding, and when all is just right lo and behold off through the ether flies a set of detailed plans to some CAM operator in a distant city to jam into his fancy manufacturing machine and voila, after some clanking and buzzing and lights going on and off, out there spits a sparkling new dishwasher.

And said dishwasher is now in my kitchen and is also on my garlic and hornet list.

The problem is a classic disconnect: designers designing stuff that they don’t use themselves in real life; so out into the marketplace goes some device or gadget or appliance, with accompanying “Part A into Slot B” instructions (written by a third party whose first language is not English), that is almost impossible to install or work on because stuff doesn’t make sense and none of the holes line up properly.

And so the stage lights come slowly up on a Saturday morning and the poor dim slob (played here by this writer) enters stage left waving an enormous pair of channel locks and sporting a headlamp, striding dishwasherwards with authority. And he spends the next six hours baffled and frustrated and squeezing himself or his limbs (or both) into very small spaces, wondering if the power is indeed off, variously screwing things up or down, unable to see very well (headlamp notwithstanding), making trips down into the basement and back up again, opening and closing valves, dropping small tools and necessary parts (e.g., wire nuts) into unreachable nooks and crannies and then fishing them out with a length of bent coat hanger, banging his knuckles on things when his cheap tools slip, talking to himself, dinging his head on things, having little vocal outbursts such as shouting, “Oh, for crying out loud,” and calling to his wife over and over again to hold something or bring him the “soaky-uppy towels” for the inevitable errant drips or shine a light on something or find some tool for him which is right next to his left elbow, but he can’t see it since he is utterly out of his mind because of the sadistic engineer aforementioned in paragraph one.

In the end, the breaker is switched back on and all the valves are reopened and the silly dishwasher goes on. Like it actually works. Lights blinking and things whirring. Water comes in and the right things spin and then the water drains out through the sink trap just as planned and no kidding the poor dim slob thinks himself a genius and he wipes his grubby hands on his pants and turns on the sink faucet just to make sure that still works…and nothing comes out. Not a drop. This is the point where he tips his head oddly and stares at the faucet and whatever is left of his sanity drains out of his ear and runs out onto the floor.

But this tragic story has a surprising and hysterical ending. Assuming that opening and closing various ancient valves in the basement had caused a bolus of rusted grunge to surge through the old house’s plumbing and (among other things, which will no doubt be discovered later), gummed up the kitchen faucet, the writer/plumber investigates by unscrewing the faucet screen. Finds no sediment (a mystery), but gets an idea. While his wife watches the Pat’s game, he sneaks around the house collecting dead bugs from the windowsills and then stuffs them into the faucet screen and calls his wife into the kitchen.

“Figured out what was wrong with the sink,” he says. And then he unscrews the screen and holds it out for his wife to examine closely.

“It’s full of dead bugs,” he says.

“Oh gross,” she says. “Are you serious? You did this.”

And then she walks away, shaking her head and laughing.

These stories usually end this way.

EP w46 peter lewis column with pic

 

ARMED AND READY for the faucet games, columnist Peter Lewis.

 

The faucet games

There aren’t many things that make me want to shove cloves of garlic under my eyelids or stuff live hornets in my ear muffs, but somewhere in the world there is an engineer who sits behind an array of fancy computers loaded with the latest CAD software and tinkers all the livelong day making decimal points and electrons do his bidding, and when all is just right lo and behold off through the ether flies a set of detailed plans to some CAM operator in a distant city to jam into his fancy manufacturing machine and voila, after some clanking and buzzing and lights going on and off, out there spits a sparkling new dishwasher.

And said dishwasher is now in my kitchen and is also on my garlic and hornet list.

The problem is a classic disconnect: designers designing stuff that they don’t use themselves in real life; so out into the marketplace goes some device or gadget or appliance, with accompanying “Part A into Slot B” instructions (written by a third party whose first language is not English), that is almost impossible to install or work on because stuff doesn’t make sense and none of the holes line up properly.

And so the stage lights come slowly up on a Saturday morning and the poor dim slob (played here by this writer) enters stage left waving an enormous pair of channel locks and sporting a headlamp, striding dishwasherwards with authority. And he spends the next six hours baffled and frustrated and squeezing himself or his limbs (or both) into very small spaces, wondering if the power is indeed off, variously screwing things up or down, unable to see very well (headlamp notwithstanding), making trips down into the basement and back up again, opening and closing valves, dropping small tools and necessary parts (e.g., wire nuts) into unreachable nooks and crannies and then fishing them out with a length of bent coat hanger, banging his knuckles on things when his cheap tools slip, talking to himself, dinging his head on things, having little vocal outbursts such as shouting, “Oh, for crying out loud,” and calling to his wife over and over again to hold something or bring him the “soaky-uppy towels” for the inevitable errant drips or shine a light on something or find some tool for him which is right next to his left elbow, but he can’t see it since he is utterly out of his mind because of the sadistic engineer aforementioned in paragraph one.

In the end, the breaker is switched back on and all the valves are reopened and the silly dishwasher goes on. Like it actually works. Lights blinking and things whirring. Water comes in and the right things spin and then the water drains out through the sink trap just as planned and no kidding the poor dim slob thinks himself a genius and he wipes his grubby hands on his pants and turns on the sink faucet just to make sure that still works…and nothing comes out. Not a drop. This is the point where he tips his head oddly and stares at the faucet and whatever is left of his sanity drains out of his ear and runs out onto the floor.

But this tragic story has a surprising and hysterical ending. Assuming that opening and closing various ancient valves in the basement had caused a bolus of rusted grunge to surge through the old house’s plumbing and (among other things, which will no doubt be discovered later), gummed up the kitchen faucet, the writer/plumber investigates by unscrewing the faucet screen. Finds no sediment (a mystery), but gets an idea. While his wife watches the Pat’s game, he sneaks around the house collecting dead bugs from the windowsills and then stuffs them into the faucet screen and calls his wife into the kitchen.

“Figured out what was wrong with the sink,” he says. And then he unscrews the screen and holds it out for his wife to examine closely.

“It’s full of dead bugs,” he says.

“Oh gross,” she says. “Are you serious? You did this.”

And then she walks away, shaking her head and laughing.

These stories usually end this way.

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