The words you never want to hear in any section of the hardware store are – “Wow, I haven’t seen one of those for a long time!”
As many of you will know, I get a short list of “little fix-it” jobs whenever we visit the family. What you may not realise is, behind every list, there is another much subtler set of things that I might just volunteer to do. This year, the “surface” list is pretty simple – just strip and paint the back stairs. The “maybe I should volunteer” list sort of evolves – like this.
“Hey, why is the dog barking?” “Oh, she’s probably just stuck outside again. The patio door is really hard to open. I think the thingies (technical term for any component you don’t quite understand) might be broken. When it gets stuck we just have to leave her outside until David gets home from work. It’s ok in summer, but when it snows …”
“Ah, maybe I can have a look at it.” Down I go. Lift out the door (man, are those things heavy!) Sure enough, both thingies look very sad. Off to the hardware. Can’t quite spot the replacements, so go to see Bob, the friendly customer service guy (Bob isn’t his real name, but I need to protect him from all those late-night DIY callers). Show him the broken thingies.
Bob looks surprised. “Well, I’ll be! I haven’t seen A42s in years!” My heart sinks. “Do you have replacements?” After a while, he stops laughing – “why heck no! But, don’t worry, I reckon you can swap out some parts from a new Z57 to fix em and they’ll be as good as, well old.” The good news is, Bob was right, and after a bit of tinkering and a lot of heavy lifting the door is gliding again on its A42-Z57 hybrids.
Time to sit down and relax. A loud clang echoes from upstairs! “What’s going on up there?” “Oh, it’s nothing. The handle of the faucet over the bath falls off sometimes when I’m bathing the kids. Don’t worry, I can usually get them out before the hot water hits them.” I’m feeling pretty confident after the door success, and, I’ve fixed lots of faucets (which we call taps) before. “Let me have a look at it!”
What a dumb thing to say! This little monster is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Only one choice – I take a picture on my phone, and head back to see my new best friend Bob.
“Hi Bob, I have this handle, but I can’t connect it to this (show him the photo)” “Oh, it’s one of those. They’re not real common these days, so we don’t keep many spares. You’ll need to ring the manufacturer in America and tell em you have the rough-in and the trim, but need a whatsit or something.” I don’t usually visit rough inns, but I reckon I know how this works. “Can’t I just use the parts from another brand? Or maybe I could make something else fit?” He looks at me like I’m from the moon. “Now, where’d you get a fool idea like that? You can’t put Ford wheels on a Chevy!”
I don’t have time to wait three weeks for a new whatsit to come from the States so, like all smart guys, I just take the handle home and do what I can to make it more secure with a bit of silicone. Ok – so the last statement isn’t quite 100% true. There was, of course, the “I can do this moment” where I attempted to McGuyver a fix using a home-made thingy, then the awkward twenty minutes while water sprayed everywhere, then the trip back to see Bob to get a whole new control unit for the “rough-in” (the only spare I knew he had in stock), but, like I said, it’s definitely staying together better since I applied the silicone.
No matter, it wasn’t on the official list of jobs anyway.