Sunday, March 4, 2007

Why People Die

In 2000, my wife and I bought two new cars, against my better judgment. We both needed cars, but buying two new cars in the same year pretty much guaranteed that they would eventually start falling apart at the same time. Sure enough, this year we each spent over a thousand dollars on car repairs.

When you buy a house, you never know what things will break down or when it will happen. In my last entry, I mentioned the hot water heater. As it turns out, there was nothing wrong with the hot water heater or the breaker box. What actually happened strains credibility.

Our shower has a single control knob, the kind you pull out to turn the water on, then twist left for hot water and right for cold. For some reason, the hot and cold water feeds reversed themselves. This is why my wife claimed there was no hot water. She had the knob turned full left, and cold water was being delivered by the valve. A friend of mine said that I needed to replace the cartridge in the shower valve control. This is a little hardware device that mixes the feeds of hot and cold water. I guess it just got old and confused.

Before fixing the problem, I needed a cup of coffee, but when I turned on the kitchen light, the bulb blew out, so I had to replace it. Then I went back to the bathroom.

I removed the knob and the backing plate, exposing the valve assembly. I took a picture of it with my camera phone and drove over to Home Depot, where I buttonholed one of their department “experts.”

“How do I remove the cartridge?” I asked, showing him the photo.

“You remove the C-clip inside the housing,” he replied, “Then just pull it out with pliers.”

“There is no C-clip,” I told him.

“Yes there is,” he asserted.

“No, there isn’t.”

"Yes, there has to be.”

"No, there isn’t.”

We danced around this issue for about 10 minutes, until I gave up in frustration and headed over to Lowe’s, where I found another “expert” working in the Plumbing section.

Our conversation was an exact repeat of the one above.

I swear to God there is no C-clip.

When I got home frustrated by the problem with no solution, I decided to just put the knob back on and train myself to turn it to the right for hot water and left for cold.

I went out to run another errand and pulled into the Burger King drive-through. My car immediately stalled, and wouldn’t start. Now there are a lot of unpleasant places where your car can die, but the drive-through line at Burger King during the lunch rush has to be one of the worst. I had to push my car through the line, around a corner, and into a parking spot.

I opened the hood, looked at the engine sternly, and tried to start it again, and it started as though nothing had happened.

The problem is, many new things have the same lifespan. So they all get old at the same time. Everything is fine for months or even years, and then BOOM, everything breaks at once. The human body is like that. When you’re born, everything in you is new. People don’t die because their kidneys fail. They die because their kidneys fail and they have diabetes and they break a hip on the way to the dialysis center and they get a blood clot and an arterial aneurism and that’s it, they die because it’s too much at once and the doctor can’t find the C-clip.

1 comment:

burton said...

I TOLD you that you would have to retrain yourselves on the hot/cold issue! HAH! I ALMOST decided to try to change mine for the same issue and wanted to see how your situation came along first. We'll have to retrain ourselves once we fix it. So which way really is better?

BTW - there HAS to be a C-Clip!