The Repairman Cometh

Oh, dear. This looks bad.
Oh, dear. This looks bad.

By Judy Berman

What is there about the holidays that cause our appliances to go on strike?

As the July 4th weekend approached, I was haunted by memories of past holidays when I scrambled for ice to keep cool when our air conditioner went on the fritz. On the hottest day of the year.

That was unbearable, but far better than the time our fridge refused to cooperate.

That particular July 4th weekend, after our refrigerator broke down, we called a repairman to fix it. Our food was in storage elsewhere – evenly distributed throughout our neighborhood.

As the repairman coolly withdrew his head from our frost-free freezer – that no longer was – he said softly: “Oh dear. This looks bad. My. My. My.”

I wondered what “Oh dear. My. My. My.” meant in terms of actual cash. At the time, I was unsuccessfully trying to pry my white-clenched knuckles away from my wallet.

The repairman then quoted an estimate that I guessed came close to financing his annual visit to money he stashed in the Cayman Islands. I blanched. Then, I reluctantly conceded that at least he made house calls.

At least the repairman made house calls.
At least the repairman made house calls.

My luck was holding steady. The fridge only needed two new parts … and … he’d just used his last one on a repair job just before ours. I was his second stop of the day.

While he checked our fridge, I decided to make some toast on our Sunkist Lemon Toaster. That’s the one that was more at home in the repair shop than in our kitchen. It refused to reject two slices of toast before they became unrecognizable remnants of their former selves.

burnt offerings for breakfast
burnt offerings for breakfast

I managed to salvage a section the size of a silver dollar. As I scraped away the blackened area, I heard this strange beep. I looked questioningly at the repairman. Again. Beep. Again, I looked.

Our daughter, Danielle, could no longer stand the suspense. “What’s that noise?” she asked, referring to what by now was becoming a steady shrill.

“Your smoke detector,” he said.

It mistook our toaster’s burnt offering for an actual emergency. I frantically fanned the smoke detector with a paper to stop the noise.

The repairman slowly shook his head sadly and muttered, “I can tell. It’s just going to be one of those days.”

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider,, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Illustrations: Art Explosion and Clip Art

  1. Now there’s a repairman with some empathy. When he said, “My, my, my,” was each “my” costing you about a hundred dollars?

  2. I can relate to this. First off, they don’t make appliances to last anymore so it happens more frequently (what happened to refrigerators lasting 30 years?). Then you are lucky if you can get a repairman in the same week (that is probably a good career choice for someone). And third, you are very lucky if you don’t have to cash in your 401(k) for the repair bill.

    1. Kate, sad to say, it’s sometimes cheaper to buy a new appliance than to repair the old one. The short lifespan has to do with planned obsolescence – the manufacturers’ plot to get you to shell out money for their newest product. The line about the repairman making a house call is true – one that my husband and I laughed about when we first saw an ad in the paper that said: “We will show up.” It was not intended as a joke. 🙂

  3. In my own experience hearing, “My, My, My,” was never a good thing.
    I’m sorry about all this happening to you over the 4th of July, Judy!

    1. Marilyn, I’ll love you and treasure this comment forever. How did you know that Erma Bombeck was one of my favorite writers? She certainly helped me see that bad experiences can be milked for laughs.

  4. A much needed chuckle, Judy. thank you.. though I do sympathise. Very similar that ‘My, my, my’ to the sharp intake of breath as the head shakes accompanied with a wry smile….

  5. That was very nice of your neighbours to store your food, although I’m sure very embarrassing calling to collect what you needed for dinner! I can’t imagine asking any of my neighbours – I don’t even know any of them any more!

    Yes, why is it that appliances always break down over weekends, public holidays or just when you need them most? It as if they know! 😉 When I was a teenager I decided to help my parents out by vacuuming the house before they returned. And just to make the house smell sweeter I covered the living room carpet in a fine dusting of Shake and Vac carpet freshener, only to find our trusty Hoover had decided to quietly die!! 😯 Luckily we did know some of our neighbours then, and a friend across the road helped me out by lending me her vacuum cleaner. I’m sure if there hadn’t have been a solution that day, my dad would have ripped up the carpet – he never could stand very strong perfume smells – and it was, unbearably strong! 😀

    1. Thank goodness for great neighbors. Mine were very accommodating. While I know few neighbors where I live now, the ones I know really came thru when we had a huge leak last month into our dining room ceiling during a rainstorm.

      Suzy, it’s nice to know that yours helped you out when that dang vacuum cleaner gave up the ghost. You had the best of intentions. 🙂

  6. Mine almost always pack up a few days before we are scheduled to leave on holiday! My dishwasher has a faulty sensor, the washing machine outlet hose is broken and the microwave just died on me yesterday!! We leave for Paris on Wednesday and believe me, getting any of these sorted out before I leave is wishful thinking. Just bought a new microwave this evening.

    1. Best wishes to you, Madhu. May all of your appliances start cooperating immediately.

      Less than 48 hours before we left for Paris last month, our roof sprung a leak during a rainstorm. Our neighbors came to the rescue before we could get someone over to repair it. It was leaking into the dining room. Thankfully, my neighbors kept an eye on our place while we were gone and they made sure the repair work was done.

      1. That sounds worse than my problems 🙂

        comment from earthrider to Madhu:
        I don’t know, Madhu. You had three appliances ready to revolt. 🙂

    1. Yes, the sound of ka-ching still echoes in my head. Glad you enjoyed the post, Jane. It’s fun to look back and capitalize on the absurdities of life. I’m taking that “love child of Erma Bombeck” and running with it – thanks again.

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