Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Your Oven Guy v. My Plumber

Dear Reader,

I write every day because I have a deadline. But even if I didn't write a daily column, I'd still have to write something every day. Because writing helps me figure out what's going on inside of me, and it helps me recognize what I'm feeling. And today--I'm feeling like I want to let the air out of the oven repairman's tires. My new oven wasn't working right, so I called the repairman. First impression when I answered the door--the repairman looked like a nice enough guy. But I thought it was strange that a guy, who fixes appliances, wouldn't be carrying his "fix-it" bag. You know one of those bags filled with screwdrivers, widgets, a secret decoder--plug it into my oven and it would spit out the secret digital codes to tell him what the problem was--so he could fix it. But this repairman showed up at my door empty handed.

I invited the repairman into the kitchen to show him the patient, and our conversation went pretty much like this: “What seems to be the problem? “The temperature isn't working properly. When my oven reads 375 degrees, it's really not that hot. “The repairman took a step back from the oven, folded his arms one over top of the other, stared at the oven, and then looked at me with a straight face and said, "The oven looks okay to me.” I thought this was oven repairman humor. It wasn't. He was serious. “Well, aren't you going to test it with a thermometer?" Then I told him about my experiment, how I set the oven to 375 degrees, and put an oven thermometer inside, but the temperature only reached 350. My experiment didn't impress the oven man. Instead, he told me the oven was working within the guidelines for new ovens, because new ovens only have to be 80 percent accurate. So let me get this straight, "I just bought a new oven because my ten year old oven wouldn't keep the right temperature any longer, and now you're telling me that this brand new oven--that cost me a whole lot of money--doesn't keep the right temperature either, but that’s okay because it's within new oven guidelines?"

Yes, that pretty much summed it up from his perspective. I begged the guy to go get his fix-it bag and test the oven himself. His first reply was that he had a full schedule, "I've got a lot of other stops to make today, so I really have to get going.” I finally talked him into testing my oven's thermostat, and it wasn’t working right, and he did fix it. But it would still be a thrill to let the air out of the oven repairman’s tires.

Thanks for reading with me. It's so good to read with friends.

Suzanne Beecher
My blog:

Dear Suzanne,

We had a plumber just like your oven guy! We recently moved into a new rental unit, where we share the hot water tank with the people upstairs. There was never enough hot water even for me to shower in the morning, never mind my husband. We weren't sure if it was because the people upstairs were using it all, or because the tank wasn’t working properly, so we called our property manager. He said he'd send plumber, so we waited for the plumber to call.

He finally called one day while we were driving home from work, and wanted us to check some settings on the tank. We asked him to call back in about an hour, when we were home, and he said he would. It was a couple of days later when he called back, and he told my husband to adjust the temperature setting on the tank. My husband came and told me what the plumber had said, and I said "but we already did that!”. And of course the plumber hadn't left a number to call him back at, so we had to call the property manager again. He had the plumber call us, and we had to beg the plumber to come out to the house and look at the tank.

He finally came, circled the tank a couple of times and pronounced “it’s a brand new tank - there's nothing wrong with it". We tried to get him to run some tests or SOMETHING because obviously there was something wrong with it as we were running out of hot water. We finally got him to admit that the tank is too small for four people to share, and coaxed him into calling the property manger to tell him that.

A few hours later, at about 10:30, just as I was drifting off to sleep, the property manager called to say "we're going to order you a larger tank". Which was just great, but why did he have to call then? Oy...

That was over a month ago now, and when we got back from vacation about two weeks ago, we still didn't have a new tank. We called again, and the manager told us that they'd ordered a new tank from Home Depot, but they were on back order! Finally, they came and installed the new tank yesterday, and this morning I had my first hot, full-length shower since the end of March. I can't decide whether to let the air out of the plumber's tires for being so difficult, or bake him my famous chocolate chip cookies for talking the manager into getting us a new tank...

--What I've Found

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