Tuesday, August 31, 2004

When the house falls apart, call Lou...

Published Summer 2004

Real life is often a mystery. There are lots of different ways people refer to a streak of bad luck. Some call it “Murphy’s Law”, others say the old favorite, “when it rains, it pours”! Personally, I like to call these little misfortunes, “Christmas must be around the corner, because the house is falling apart”, or in short, C.A.C.A.

For instance, something breaks, either in the house or on the car and it needs to be repaired. It costs several hundred dollars but it’s really not fixed yet because nothing stays new, fixed or inside it’s warranty. This was true with my central vacuum system which is too small for my house by the way. The sweet folks who built our home made sure they used the cheapest and most ineffective products in our house. We didn’t know this. Their sales people were over the top but their service people were robots. They don’t like us because we want our stuff to work. I guess we are just not “industry standard” which was a common phrase the service manager used with me when I asked her why my house didn’t look or work right.

My summer started out with the burning out of my stove top ignition system. Two weeks later the double ovens went out. We ignored both problems and started eating out.

Later, when it looked like the summer would start to sizzle we decided that it was time to call a professional and install a whole house fan, and right after that happened, our HVAC unit’s coil system went caput and has probably been bad since our home was built. Do we repair it or replace it? I don’t know. (Whining like Seinfeld)

C.A.C.A. occurs with the cars too. It’s not one car that needs a repair, it’s all of them. The tires are only bad when the registration is due and that is in December when we are looking at hosting Christmas parties and buying gifts. We try not to go into debt but C.A.C.A. makes it impossible.

The only answer to C.A.C.A. is a neighbor you can trust who is a real friend and his name is Lou. Every person on planet earth should have their very own Lou but that’s impossible. Lou is precious and we’re not sharing him nor his last name with anyone else, so forgedabout it.

Lou started working on my house seven years ago. When the builder wanted his money but didn’t want to find the leak that was destroying my family room at Christmastime, Lou showed up with his wife and they tore out the wall to find the leak. When my gas dryer was giving me trouble one winter while the laundry piled up into New Year, it was Lou that came and braved his way through the mess and saved the day. Two weeks ago, the whole house fan expert installed the switch on a crooked angle which sent J.D. into a tailspin, so Lou came and straightened it out by gerry-rigging it with his popsicle sticks and some caulking. It looks perfect.

Lou is the answer man. I wish I hadn’t waited so long to ask him about my bath tub. I spent the last seven years taking a bath in lukewarm water because the water heater our builder installed in our home had a defective dip something or another. Lou knew this and fixed all the dip thingys for many of the neighbors on his own time. Hot water is a blessing.

Lou is a sweetheart. You can call on him anytime, unless of course “The Price is Right”, or “Cops” happens to be on television. But it’s well worth the hour wait. Not only that, when he’s here fixing things, we get to listen to his musings on life which are absolutely hilarious. He’s the pirate king in our ‘Pirates of Penzance’.

When J.D. needs anything at all, Lou is always there. Like a superhero, he’ll ride around on his red scooter scouting out other C.A.C.A . projects. J.D. wants to be handy like Lou. He practices by putting on Lou’s old overalls that say “Lou” on the name tag and he walks around with something in his hand. Everyone has their niche.

I thought about Lou today as I was escorting the repairman I summoned to my home on the hottest day of the year. No sooner did the heat arrive and our air conditioner went out again. The very nice HVAC man spent a good deal of his morning evaluating the problem with scrutiny, whereby making it look like a job suitable only for a neurosurgeon. I had flashbacks of the character, ‘Cosmo’, in “Moonstruck”. He works for a reputable company which I’m sure you’ve heard of called, Gimme Allyurmoney. He had two estimates for me, one for $1800.00 and the other for $3800.00.

Christmas is four months away. I came inside the house to telephone J.D. to break it to him gently when I noticed the dish washer leaking. Lou will be by the house about five o’clock, so everything will be OK.

Tammy Maher is a resident of El Dorado Hills and bi-weekly columnist for the Mountain Democrat. You can reach her at familyfare@sbcglobal.net

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