thinkerPeople use all kinds of different sources of wisdom to help predict the future and guide their decisions. Some methods of divination include reading the flights of birds or searching for answers to the mysteries of life in oracle cards, yarrow stalks, coins, tea leaves or the entrails of animals. For the ancient Greeks it was the Oracle at Delphi. The Vikings were big on reading rune stones. For some it’s the Bible. For others it’s the daily horoscope in the newspaper or Dial-a-Psychic. Me, I draw old folk sayings from a hat.

Old folk sayings have guided me through many of life’s tough choices. Here are some of my favorites:

A poor excuse is better than none at all.

Better late than never.

Better weak beer than lemonade.

Better bowlegs than no legs at all.

Bad breath is better than no breath at all.

Good things come in small packages.

Bad things happen in threes.

Go all the way on the third date.

More on this later.

We were doing a load of laundry last week. It was business as usual until the final spin cycle which sounded like the space shuttle lifting off from a launching pad in the utility room. The entire house vibrated with the sound and fury of a star going super nova. After it wound down and stopped, I unloaded the laundry and spun the basket around a few times. It sounded fine. So I thought this might be a small hiccup and it would go away by itself. This is where folk sayings come in handy to help me justify sheer insanity. Let sleeping dogs lie, I thought. This kind of logic is like hoping a flat tire will repair itself while you’re driving. This is why I’m not a mechanic or a surgeon.

A few days later I mustered the courage to do another load of laundry and everything sounded good until the final spin. This time it was the starting line at a NASCAR race or an F-15 taking off from the flight deck of an aircraft carrier. The machine was vibrating like a jackhammer and walking across the floor under its own power. This was as close to poltergeist activity as anything I’ve seen in this house. With another nugget of folk wisdom blazing in my brain, All good things must come to an end, we put in a call to a repairman.

The repairman arrived at the appointed hour looking every bit the part of Dan Akyroyd’s classic depiction of the Norge repairman. I did not, however, look at his ass to see if his crack was showing. It took him less than 30 seconds to diagnose the problem as a bad bearing which probably caused collateral damage to the fleegywinkle, bearing straits and various and sundry other parts. He hammered away at his iPad for a few minutes and handed me an estimate for parts and labor. After I recovered from my apoplectic episode, I stammered: “It would cost less to buy a new machine.” “Exactly,” he replied. “Too bad you didn’t have the extended service contract. This would have all been covered.” I have always thought that extended service contracts were like buying protection from the mob and that stuff should last beyond it’s warranty period. But still, I was silently kicking myself for not buying protection from the mob.

“You know” he said, “there’s an old saying that appliances break down in pairs.This dryer is a ticking time bomb. Could go anytime.” Yeah.” I thought, “ Washers and dryers mate for life like black vultures, gibbons or albatrosses.” 

“I’m just sayin’,” he said, “If that fleegywinkle goes bad it will be like a claymore mine exploding in your utility room. If the shrapnel doesn’t kill you, cleaning up the flood will be like Love Canal exploded in your house.’

After he left I briefly contemplated going back to washing my clothes by beating them on rocks in the river. Then I realized there is no nearby river and that I had never beaten my clothes on rocks. I started shopping the internet for a washer that would mate with my dryer for the rest of its troubled and uncertain life. I also needed a washer that would stack underneath the dryer.

I quickly found one that I thought would work. It was also the least expensive. I was starting to feel like a mail-order-bride broker. I was also haunted by the old folk saying that a man who marries twice is a two time loser. I started to get the creeping feeling that it might not be possible to remarry my old dryer to a spanky new washer.

Armed with internet quotes, a newly approved store charge card, coupons with guaranteed rebates, perks and discounts and the resolve to drive a hard bargain, I entered the store. I had a quote for a washer for $599. With all the rebates, coupons and Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free cards, I thought I could wheel and deal my way out of there for about 500 bucks. I figured I could cover that by recycling my empty beer bottles.

What happened next will always be one of the darkest events in the voluminous annals in my personal Hall of Shame. It is why you should NEVER allow me to negotiate the final price of a new home, new car or a double de-caf, half-caf latte at Starbucks.

A sales associate came to my assistance with iPad in hand. He was quite near sighted and asked for my help inputting data into his iPad. Of course, luring me into this “helping” role immediately sucked me into letting my guard down. It took mere minutes to go from driving a hard bargain on a washing machine for $599 to the purchase of new washing machine, new dryer, (They mate for life, you know. Just like albatrosses.)  and all the hoses, fittings, duct tube, mounting brackets and five year service contracts for just under two grand. I’m using the term two grand because that’s how we roll when we’re playing the numbers in the back alley gambling houses of Detroit.

I left there with my head reeling and wondering if I need to enroll in a 12 step program for gambling addiction. I’m taking delivery on my new appliances tomorrow. Sometime between 8AM and 5PM. I’m waiting for my man.

At least, this time, I did purchase protection from the mob. For five years. We’re gonna drive this thing ’till the wheels fall off! Even if a fool and his money are soon parted, maybe by that time, I’ll be living in a Buddhist monastery on some bleak hillside, dressed in an itchy woolen robe and won’t be needing a washer and dryer.

Self Portrait
Self Portrait