The dryer malfunctioned this week. The repair needed was minor, but we lacked the expertise, proper tools and body flexibility (to get behind the dryer) needed to fix it. We contemplated calling a repair person, but the last time we did that, they laughed a little and told us it might be easier to just buy a new dryer!
As Roy sweated in the tiny space behind the dryer, attempting to affix a hose to the vent that was not agreeing to the attachment, and I stood above, trying to keep him from bumping his head, back, etc. on the shelf above him when he stood up, I suddenly began thinking about “The Long Winter,” a book I am reading with my grandsons.
I know, this seems like a non sequitur from the topic of dryer repairs, but it really does connect. In the book, the Ingalls are struggling without coal, kerosene and flour. Of course, they find that “where there’s a will, there’s a way” for each of those problems and Pa remarks, “These times are too progressive. Everything has changed too fast. (Modern conveniences) are good things to have, but the trouble is, folks get to depend on ’em.” (The Long Winter, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Chapter 19)
Now he was talking about railroads, kerosene and coal, but the truth of his statement is still there. My dryer, which is a wonderful thing when I have it, makes me almost helpless when it isn’t functioning correctly. And while the trains are still running around here, they aren’t bringing in any repairmen to fix the problem.
“How is it looking,” I asked, hanging hopefully over the back of the dryer as my husband attempts with only two hands and a lot of cursing, to get things back together.
“I can’t make the thingy fit over the doohickey,” he mutters, his head covered in leaking lint, “and the clamps they use must have been developed on the moon. I’m afraid you may have to do without the dryer.”
“Do without the dryer!” I exclaim in horror. “I’ve got a pile of wet clothes here!”
“Well, take them to the laundromat,” he grumbled, straining to try and force the things to fit together.
“I tried them, they are closed. I can’t just leave these clothes wet!”
In exasperation, he looked up from his work and said the words that could very well end our marriage, “You may have to hang them outside.”
I was speechless. Hang the towels outside???? I have never heard of anything so outrageous. It has been so long since I pulled out the collapsible clothesline, that I’m pretty sure it’s rusted and as for clothespins? I only use those to keep opened bags of chips sealed. I don’t hang clothes out with them!
It’s true, trying to repair household items could lead to the breakdown of our society and everything we hold dear. When the refrigerator broke down a couple of years ago, we were forced to store our cold food in a cooler with ice for over half a day, before we could find a repairman. The worse argument we had in years was over who was going to be brave enough to test the milk to see if it had spoiled!
My automatic floor sweeper gave up the ghost a few months ago, but I kept it plugged into the wall so I wouldn’t have to face the awful truth that it had died and there was no miracle resuscitation that could help it. I didn’t realize how this had affected me until the neighbor child said, “You should really run that vacuum thing, because there is dog hair all over this rug!”
“Don’t you think I know that?” I sobbed into my hankie. “But I just keep hoping that maybe the battery will suddenly charge and my floor sweeper will come back to life and clean the rugs!” That child has not been back to visit since.
Okay, so I’m not particularly resourceful like the Ingalls in compensating for the things that are not working. Modern society has made me helpless in the face of a phone that doesn’t function, or a printer that’s out of ink. I know I need to learn that “where there’s a will, there’s a way,” or else, move to someplace where there are more repairman–is there such a place?
I was thinking about that again this morning when Roy trudged up from the basement with a grim look on his face. “The furnace isn’t working,” he announced. “I don’t know what’s wrong.”
But no! Winter’s coming, and I don’t have Pa Ingalls here to show me how to twist those hay sticks to burn!