Home Ownership Tales: The Dishwasher

Since the day I bought my house almost one year ago, I have decided to become Ms. Fix-It in every circumstance that I possibly can. This aspiration serves two purposes:

1) to save money (duh).
2) to empower myself and become indispensable to . . . myself, I guess.

So, in following that dream, I have home-remedy-fixed my dishwasher drain, my pipes under the kitchen sink (two different times; two different pipe sections), a doorknob, my doorbell, a dryer hose, and several drawer pulls. Along this same vein, I have also self-examined (read: involves some sort of disassembling or other action more involved than just staring at it) certain areas for potential fixing. These include: my bathroom-sink pipes, my gutters, my roof, and my attic. (The attic story you can find here, if we are Facebook friends.) I have used my toolbox tools more times in the last year than probably a lot of girls will in a lifetime. And no, they are not pink.

I quickly learned last summer that I made a poor decision when I chose my dishwasher. Brand-new appliances (that I got to choose), with installation, were included in the purchase price of my home. Because I was worried about going over the allowance, I was conservative when I chose a dishwasher, thinking I would not want to skimp on the fridge and oven. As it turned out, I had money left over when I finished, and I wish it had occurred to me go back and choose a pricier dishwasher. But it didn’t.

As a result, my dishwasher sometimes gets a little contrary and needs some encouragement and coaxing to keep performing well. Last week, I got a bit pushy with it and stacked the top rack too high. It hit resistance on that top spinny thing* as I pushed the rack in, but I persisted, convincing the dishwasher that making everything fit nicely would be in its best interest. (I may or may not have done this by shoving the rack the rest of the way in.) In protest, the top spinny thing popped off and fell down into the bay. Oops.

I picked up two loose pieces and tried to see if I could pop them back in place but no luck. A day or so later, I showed the pieces to my friend Danielle when she came over. She performed her own inspection, unscrewed a third piece of this contraption that hadn’t popped off with the other two, tried to put them all back together outside the dishwasher, and then handed all three pieces to me in defeat.

We spent a little more time examining the situation and decided that what I needed was a way for all three pieces to be held together. If we could just get them to hold themselves together, I could screw the whole thing back on and be good to go. Danielle explained that all I needed was a “clippy-pin-thingy” to accomplish this.

“Great,” I said. “Where can I get one?” She said any home improvement store.

So this week, I went to Lowe’s, cradling my three crippled dishwasher pieces and ready to accost the first employee I saw and explain my situation, hoping desperately that I wouldn’t come off as one of those customers. Anybody who has ever worked in any sort of customer service knows the kind of customer I am talking about – the kind who has in mind exactly what she thinks she needs, despite her lack of expertise in the field; the kind who will not allow the store employee to persuade her to purchase something more expensive than what she thinks she is looking for; the kind who only wants the store employee to point her in the direction of the aisle that contains the mythical, magical, fix-it-all item she envisions in her head. This was exactly what I planned to do and the exact outcome I hoped for. I just didn’t want to come across that way.

My hopes dwindled after I gave my speech to an employee who just stood there, looking dumbly back at me. Strangely enough, he didn’t seem to know what I meant  by “clippy-pin-type thing.” (What, is Lowe’s just hiring any ol’ dummy off the street now? Not even checking references?)

Then said store employee got a bright idea. “I think we should call John,” he said.

I said, “John? Great. Let’s call John. Who’s John?”

He held up his index finger to indicate that I should wait (and please hush) while he picked up the service phone to get John on the line. Then I stood there patiently and listened to his end of the conversation.

“John? Yeah . . . I’ve got a customer over here who . . . well, she has a dishwasher part. She thinks she needs [thanks for not disguising your condescension, buddy] something like a cotter pin or spring pin [so he did understand “clippy-pin-type thing!”] or . . . something, but . . . Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Okay.”

He hung up the phone and said, “We’re gonna go see John.”

I said, “Oh! We are? Wonderful. Where’s John?”

I was being cheerful and pleasant, so I don’t know why he smirked and rolled his eyes as he led the way to John. But I followed him, and when we found John in another aisle, I handed over my three pieces. I began to launch into my speech again, but before I could get to “clippy,” John glanced at the pieces, turned one of them over, and snapped the whole contraption back together, just like that. Turns out, I just had the linchpin piece upside down this entire time.

My reaction to John’s solution was a mixture of glee (that it hadn’t cost me any money) and humiliation (that, in trying to avoid being that customer, I had turned into this customer).

Still, though, the endeavor was a success. I returned home, screwed the contraption back into the dishwasher, and called it a day. Now my dishwasher functions at 100% again (except for when it doesn’t open the soap dispenser), and I still got to feel a little like Ms. Fix-It.

But my encounter with John made it clear that I have a ways to go. The question is: Is turning a piece right-side-up the key to cornering the fix-it market? Or just the tip of the iceberg? Maybe John will let me be his apprentice.

*Dishwasher spinny thing was one of the top search terms in the drop-down list on Google. So obviously, that’s the technical term.
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13 Comments

Filed under bloggy, goals, irreverent

13 responses to “Home Ownership Tales: The Dishwasher

  1. This made me giggle. Love the thinga-ma-giger equivalent part description. I love knowing just enough of the
    right terms around so they take me seriously.

    Correctly assembling it at no charge is a total will though. :-)

  2. The fact that dishwasher spinny thing made it into the drop down search in Google truly made my day. That’s just hilarious!!

  3. Reese

    I think we need to talk about the first Lowe’s employee you spoke to who wasn’t able to snap your three pieces back together. You may have been this customer, but it sounds like he was that guy.

    Also, this was quite amusing, and I think you’re full of crap and should stop saying that you miss being funny. You’re hilarious. The end.

    P.S. I smiled with I saw (read: ) Not that you did that because of me, but since I just recently did that in one of my posts, I’m going to say you did. I’m not above knowingly boosting my own ego.

    • Haha, Reese. You may be right about the employee. Thank you for calling me hilarious. But if you used your brain, you’d realize that I wrote this post BECAUSE I miss being fun! And you can take credit for whatever you want. But I choose not to disclose whether that (read: ) thing was actually inspired by you.

  4. Reese

    P.S. to my first comment. Apparently I did not properly input the HTML code for italics. My bad.

  5. That sounds exactly like something I would miss when trying in vain to fix something. Haha, I would have been super embarrassed to have John do that with the pieces right in front of me! In my experience fixing something means I must have the patience to mentally rotate the pieces, or at least trial-and-error-style mash them together until something clicks. I think the all-important step in cornering the fix-it market is a blend of patience and resolve, two qualities which are relatively learnable (unlike, say, being able to run a sub 2:30 marathon or doing calculus, which are relatively unlearnable). Which means, there’s hope for us all!

    • Wes, here’s the thing: I DID try to put them together before going to the store. I just didn’t try enough configurations, apparently. I don’t know. Sometimes when something involves snapping two pieces together, I wimp out early because I’m afraid I’m going to break it . . . But in any case, I do appreciate your encouragement!

  6. b longfellow

    you need to get a job as a columnist. entertaining and well-crafted, as always, with some good laughs besides.

    i also think you’d get lots of fan email/letters, which in turn (i have no doubt) would provide you with additional material for your column, or at least for your memoir.

    • Oh my gosh, Brian. You are preposterous. A columnist? Are you serious? I am deeply flattered that you think that much of my writing. But I would fail as a columnist. I’ve often said that as soon as I have to write for a living – that’s the day I stop being a good writer. The deadlines, the pressure to be awesome – it would get to me and I would fail miserably. But I DO appreciate your vote of confidence. It at least makes me want to keep blogging, at the very least.

      (Of course, that’s not to say that if the Kansas City Star offered me a column tomorrow I wouldn’t take it . . .)

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