The other day I decided to repair a lamp. Now, the lamp was probably 30 years old, but it was a beautiful lamp and one of a matched set. So, I decided to save it from the landfill and preserve it for posterity. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?
Well, for a lot of people, yes, it would be easy. But we are talking about me, whose best repair tactic is to hit whatever is broken as hard as I can with my fist, foot, or the nearest heavy object. Yes, I’ve hit computers, TVs, radios, cars, animals, hell, just about anything that refused to respond to my feeble repair efforts.
Years ago, I once opted for a method other than hitting when upset with a push lawnmower that failed to start despite endless tugs on the rope. In that case, I lifted the lawnmower and slammed it on the ground a few times. That proved just as successful as hitting it with a hammer. I then purchased a riding lawnmower which is better in two ways. One, mowing is much easier and quicker when riding and, two, I can’t lift it up and slam it on the ground. However, I can still smack the hell out of it when I need to.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not helpless and, in fact, have fixed a few things around the house. I have an out-building full of tools and know what type of repair they are used for. But knowing what tool you need for a repair and actual completing the repair are two different animals. Problems can arise, and, in my case, often do.
A couple of months ago, one of our shower heads needed to be repaired, so I got the appropriate tools and went to work. I had the shower head repaired, it worked fine, but then I thought maybe I should tighten it just a little bit more. So I gave it one more twist and the shower head and a small section of pipe to which it was attached fell to my feet. Damn, so close to success.
So, you see, when it comes to repairs, what is simple to some is a challenge for me. To say I am not good at repairing things is like saying the Hindenburg had a slight accident. To say I get frustrated and angry when the repair proves too much for me is like saying Jack the Ripper was a bit unkind.
Anyway, back to the demon infested lamp. If the lamp had only needed a new light bulb, this repair could have been accomplished quickly and without any cursing. But, alas, that was not the case. No, this repair involved much more than that. It involved replacing the wiring and the part that the bulb screws into; I’m not sure what that part is called, but I came up with several names, all very derisive.
The lamp, itself, also proved to be a deceiving piece of hardware. Oh, it looked like a piece of cake, but once I loosened the nuts, the lamp came apart in 10 pieces. My first mistake was not paying close attention to the exact way the lamp was assembled; my next mistake was not realizing that every part needed to be in its proper place before attaching the wires to the mysterious part in which the light bulb rests. I think I attached and unattached the wires around eight times.
There was also a third problem, keeping up with the parts. Despite the fact that I never moved from my chair doing the two hours I worked on the lamp, I somehow lost one of the two nuts needed to properly reassemble it. I looked under my chair, as well beside and under the chair cushion, I looked on the table next to the chair, I looked on the floor under the chair, I even expanded my search to the nearby couch. Still, no nut.
I then walked to my out-building and returned with a quart jar full of miscellaneous nuts and bolts, until I found a nut very close in size. The key is words here are very and close. I put the lamp back together, but there was a slight problem – it jiggled and lean to one side, then the other. It was at this point, when my control was beginning to slip and the lamp was seconds from being hurled off the front porch into the road, that the Mistress of the Manor opened up my handy home repair case. Inside was the missing nut.
I unassembled and reassembled the lamp once more, plugged it in and …. nothing, no light, not even a glimmer. I was getting ready to not only hurl the lamp into the road, but then hammer it into miniscule pieces with a hammer when the Mistress of the Manor handed me a new bulb. I screwed it in and, halleluiah, there was light. Glorious, glorious light.
After that ordeal, the Mistress of the Manor suggested that maybe I should open up a repair shop. Somehow, I don’t think she was serious, but if I did open a repair shop, I would charge by the hour. I figure a repair like the one I had just completed would give a cool $287.56, including a little over $10 in parts.