Monday, February 20, 2006

Today, I Became a Man...

Okay, so I've always been one, but today was one of those days that proves I do have testosterone, despite both my brothers protestations...

I fixed our oil heater, all by my lonesome.

So I will admit, it wasn't really broken. We had run out of oil this morning (nothing like a cold shower on a 10 degree day to wake you up!) so I ran into town (I sound very Walton-ish, don't I?) to order oil, then came home to await the delivery of my hot shower. Oil delivered. Yeah!!!

I quickly strip and start the water. Cold. I go check the coal stove to make sure it's fine, then come back to the water. Still cold. I make sure the dog is fed, call my mom, go check the water. Still cold.

I go downstairs, and on the oil thingy is a list of things to do should you not be getting heat. So I begin with step one: Do you have oil? Well duh. That's like a computer manual saying, Is the computer plugged in? So I move onto step two: Check your breakers. So I wander over to that dank corner of the basement, disturbing a few house goblins I'm sure, to check the breakers. They all seem fine, but being the thorough person I am, proceed to turn them all off, then back on, one by one. Satisfied I had solved the problem, I go back upstairs and turn the water on.

Still cold.

This time, I put on some jeans before going back down into the basement. The last thing need is some spider or otherworldly insect crawling into my private areas. Plunging once again into the remote regions of my house, I read step three: Set your thermometer at least ten degrees above house temperature. Sighing loudly, so that my dog knows to stay out of my way, I head back upstairs to the living room and set the thermostat higher. I listen. Silence. Sighing again, for my own benefit this time, I now put on a shirt as well, then head back downstairs.

Step Four: Flip the emergency power button to off, then back on. The what? I stare around. I see a few switches located behind one of the two support posts in my basement. I go back upstairs, grab a flashlight, put on some shoes, then go back downstairs and head for the switches. None are labeled but neither are the seven switches at the top of the basement stairs that seem to do nothing. So I start flipping them one by one. I discover a light that was previously unknown to work before. Smiling in a self-satisfied manner, thinking things are finally going okay, I set down the flashlight and proceed to flip switch #2. Nothing happens. I assume this must be a cousin of the seven upstairs switches. I flip it back off just in case, then look at switch #3. It is scary looking. It is bright red.

Now we've all seen the movies where the bright red button means "End of the World." I am very afraid of flipping this switch and imagine dying in a puff of smoke. I hope Hawthorne has watched enough Lassie reruns to know that he needs to head into town and bark while running in circles to alert the well-meaning townsfolk that the fag up the street has blown himself up and requires immediate assistance.

I notice a label underneath years of dust and dirt, so I wipe it off. It reads: Emergency Switch. Praying to the powers that be, I do a quick flip. You know, flip-flip, on-off, so fast that you know nothing could have possibly been accomplished. Realizing I hadn't blown up, I carefully, slowly, flip the switch. Silence.

I go back to read step four: Flip the emergency power button to off, then back on. I wander back over, running into a heretofore undisturbed cobweb, then flip the switch again. I head back upstairs, cursing all spiders. I turn on the water. Anybody wanna guess? Cold.

Grumbling, I head downstairs to read the fifth and final step, step five: Locate your reset button and hit it only once. And yes, only once is in bold as well as underlined. I circle the heating unit and notice many boxes. Opening them one at a time, I find where I can set the temp of the water, so I lower it from scalding to spicy. In the third box, I find another red button. I reminisce briefly about my red flip switch earlier and decide, What could it hurt? I push the button. A rumble happens, so I quickly retreat to the far side of the basement, ignoring any and all cobwebs this time. If there's an explosion, I want nothing to do with it. It makes noise for about 10 seconds, then switches back off. I wonder if this is okay, if this means it's fixed if this means I will have a hot shower. Full of hope and thankful to be without gaping wounds in my body, I head upstairs and turn on the water. I check the coal stove. I take the dog out to pee. I head back into the bathroom. I do believe the water is colder.

Back in the netherlands of the house, I stare at this red button. "Only once" was made pretty clear to me on step five. But being the lucky person I am with red buttons today, I boldly hit the button once again, and retreat, cobweb free this time. Ten seconds, then silence. I am officially irked.

Being no longer afraid of the color red, I proceed to hit the button nine or ten more times before giving up and calling the seviceman. He gives me a new list. I thank him and hang up.

I eat lunch.

Thinking I couldn't possibly get any dirtier, I head downstairs. I am becoming quite comfortable with its earthy smells, it's dankness. Okay, maybe not, but I am happy for the new light switch I found, even though it is in a place not very convenient.

Heading back over, I kneel down beside the box containing the red button. I find the small knob that the serviceman said to find. I loosen it, then repush the red button. A spew of gunk spits out into my lap. So much for not getting any dirtier. As the gunk continue to spew, I follow my directions. Loosen until spew becomes a steady stream. This seems to take forever as I continue to be blasted with frothy, dirty oil spittle from my heating unit. Once it turns into a steady stream, I tighten the nut and wait for the sound he said I would hear. A giant clunk! Hearing it, I smile. I head upstairs, and proceed to get a hot shower.

I got dirty, gritty, and oily. It required neither a car, a sport, a beer, or a buxom blonde. I am a man.


terriamachine said...

I would never protest your manness. I'm pussy central compared to you. Those spiderwebs around my boiler give me the willies...

terriamachine said...

...and you missed a possessive apostrophe after "brothers"... and tell Kelly I said hi... and I gotta get back to my homeroom... and...

Jason Hughes said...

And that is why you are the English major in the family, and I am simply an observer who jots down random thoughts, ideas, and emotions without regard for sentence structure, grammar, and tenses.

Miss reading your blog! You and Kelly should start it up again!