Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Fates' Messages

I think the fates have decided that I should not have a working oven.  I'm far from an expert in these fate-y matters, but when something is decided, it's decided way above my pay grade.

Sears came out, determined that they do not have the part to fix my stove, ordered the part, and can come back - in two weeks - to put the part in.  That will be almost three weeks with no oven.  I've put the pot roast in the freezer.   Funny, but it being hot and humid outside, I didn't feel that I really needed the oven until they told me I couldn't have it.  I had the roast, some quiche, some bread in my baking plans.  I did manage to live moderately successfully without an oven for a year and a half until three months ago when I bought the new stove that just broke.

It makes me think of another time when it seemed like the fates had decided something, and darn it, that's what was going to happen, no matter what I thought about the matter.  In, oh, about 2001-ish, my brother-in-law totaled a Ford Explorer by accidentally driving off the road and into some woods.  The brother-in-law and the car were in Oregon.  I was in South Carolina.  I bought the car from salvage, had it repaired, and got a salvage title.  Then a friend and I flew across the country and started to drive the car back across the country - on Christmas eve. 

We drove two hours west first, to put our toes in the Pacific Ocean to symbolically start the journey.  We were going to end the journey by putting our toes into the Atlantic Ocean at South Carolina.  This was the second time for my friend and I to drive cross-country. A few years earlier, we had driven from LA to Cleveland.  It was Christmas Eve, just in case you didn't get that when I wrote it earlier.

A snowstorm blew up, just east of Pendleton, Oregon.  My friend, who was driving hit a patch of black ice.  We spun and tipped against the mountain ending up facing the wrong way on the road.  We got towed to an Indian Casino in Pendleton and spent Christmas Day waiting for someone, anyone to come back to work.  It was the Worst. Christmas.  Ever.  We were both so depressed that all was could do was lay on our beds and watch some makeover show on TLC.   When an insurance agent came back to work and looked at the car, they said it was totaled.  Again.  We made our way in a Planes, Trains and Automobiles sort of way back to Portland and flew back east.

I think the fates knew what the car's destiny was.  It was never going to be my car.  It was going to be ... a total loss.  I/we succeeded only in keeping it from that fate for a few weeks.

The story ends well.  We were both unharmed.  My friend's insurance policy paid for the car.  The money helped me get out of South Carolina and move to Washington, which was big, very big.  We are still friends.  Every time I tell this story I get thankful for all the ways we were lucky.

It's happened a few times in my life, where it becomes obvious that something bigger is going on than my little plans. I take it as a message that I need to slow down and stop Trying To Get So Much Done.  I know it's only a stove for chrissakes, but I also know it's a message to slow down and chill.  Pay attention to things and appreciate.  I listen to those messages. 


  1. I think your stove breaking is more a message of a poor quality stove. Sears should be able to get a part for a new stove faster than that. You should phone and complain, I would.

  2. The part will be here in a day, but I'll wait 2 weeks for the repairman to come back. He's busy fixing everyone elses' poor quality equipment. It's running about 50% on appliances that I've bought lately that something's going to fail. It happened with the hot water heater in March, and that wasn't Sears.

  3. Geesh, the comment I had in my head all ready to type was identical to Sparkless's! Shoddy equipment and construction of same is really getting to be B-A-D! Who comes out ahead with this lack of quality??

  4. I tend to not listen to those messages. With the resultant consequences.

    Maybe it runs in the family.

  5. I guess I'm more tolerant than you folks are of shoddy stuff, mostly because I've spent my entire career working in many of the factories that make this "stuff." (Disclaimer - the following is only my opinion) When we read in the Wall Street Journal about productivity going up - what they mean is that more things are getting sold, money is being made with less inputs, manpower and materials. The inevitable result is my crappy stove and crappy hot water heater. I've had to implement this stuff - do more with less - at many places I've worked. It's not pretty.

    Last Friday when the guy came to look at my surging water pressure, he offered me a few options. One of those was replacing my 30-year-old water tank with a bladder-type tank. Since I'm positive that a new water tank would last LESS time than this old one, I'm keeping the old one as long as I can. The guy says it can last 20 more years, and I'm going to try to make that happen. When new water tanks are only designed to last 15 years, mine will be 50 years old.

  6. That's exactly why our three vehicles are 17 years old, 17 years old, and 25 years old!

  7. Unfortunately, not many companies close the loop on collecting data about how and where they spend money on warranty calls and use that data to improve products. Sad, but I've worked in MANY places, and I've only been at one company that does it, and they were developing the data capability while I was there in 2004-2008. We think it's straightforward - call and complain and things get better, but really for most companies the info goes into a black hole never to be seen by human eyes again. Sigh. Down, blood pressure, down.

  8. I liked your definition of productivity. It reminded me of a sign we had in my office way back when...
    'We've been doing more and more, with less and less that we can now do anything with nothing!'
    Personally, I believe that being green and sustainable is keeping what you have and making it last. Many machines from the bygone days were over engineered and will last 'way' longer than they should.
    Have you thought of purchasing used 'commercial grade' appliances? From your posts, it seems you like to cook and ever day 'Sears' (read NOT MADE HERE) appliances may not last for your needs.

  9. Hi Ray,
    I wish I knew more about used equipment. I see some interesting old things on craigslist, but not knowing if it's great or terrible and not having time to do research, I generally pass on it. I'm probably missing some good stuff!

  10. Used equipment is like used cars, some are great and some are lemons (unless you like lemons, then think Haggis :) The key resource is time, as in find it, haul it home, use, fix, and or abandon and start again.
    In the 'good ol' days' you purchased new and things worked better than used. Today it is a crap shoot as to whether a new appliance will out last a well used old one.
    That's one reason I check out craigslist for old / used gardening farming equipment. Some times if the price is right, you can buy a 'dud' and it is still worth the price as you learn more about what works and what doesn't and sometime even how folks did things in the 'good ol' days' ;) Enjoy