Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Mr. Fixit

Here's a scene that plays out regularly in my life as a homeowner. I sit down to stroke a mortgage check that has far too many numbers to the left of the decimal place, when some vital piece of equipment in the house abruptly quits working. Usually it makes an uneasy gurgling noise, and then dies in a spectacular and fiery display. It could be the water heater, the furnace, the A/C unit, various household appliances, you name it. Actually, the problems that crop up do not just limit themselves to things that require electricity. For example, peeling wallpaper, trim work, rain gutters, outdoor lighting, overgrown hedges, yard care, creaking floorboards, caulking and grouting, chimney dampers, gas lines, carpets, roof shingles, ceiling leaks, unexplained odors, frightening noises, hobos. I could go on and on listing items that came up just today, but the point is that lots of things spring up out of nowhere with no warning.

For the most part, when anything breaks down or spontaneously bursts into flame, I have several options to choose from:
  1. Ignore the problem and hope it goes away.
  2. Pay someone to come in and fix the problem.
  3. Play Mr. Fixit and try to fix the problem myself.
Usually, choice #1 is my preferred avenue. If that is absolutely not an option, choice #3 is then the default (as my last name is not Rockefeller or Gates). Now like most red-blooded, manly-type men, I have seen my share of home-improvement shows. Somehow watching these programs has instilled in me the sense that I should be able to tackle minor home improvements on my own. Yet seemingly when I try to fix something, no matter how minor, I always make things much worse, and hence much more expensive for myself when I am forced to fall back to choice #2.

I can't tell you how much it frustrates me when I fail at a task that I think I should be able to complete with ease, and then find myself either lying in the emergency room with tubes coming out of every opening in my body or talking with the local fire department officers as we stand around the smoldering remains of my home. The frequency of such scenes playing out in my life is becoming almost comical. When will I admit that I am not Mr. Fixit?