When our furnace broke last week — which happened during the coldest spell Ohio has seen since they started keeping official records of such things 10,000 years ago — I immediately sprang into action.
And, I’m happy to report that after just a few hours of highly specialized training on my part, I was able to determine that our furnace, is, in fact, located in our garage.
Then I called someone who might actually know what they were doing to come and fix it for me, because I shouldn’t be allowed around any heat source greater than rubbing my hands together really fast — and even that consists of a pretty sketchy set of standards and practices.
About the only thing in my life I can handle breaking is news.
My inability to take care of even the most minor of home repairs — let alone something as complex as repairing a furnace, which may as well be like repairing the circular trajectory pipes in the Large Hadron Collider as far as I’m concerned — dates back to my childhood.
When I was a kid, I frequently would get drafted into helping out with home repair projects with my old man. I learned a lot from the time I spent with him working on household projects … most of them involving swear words and the art of throwing a crescent wrench amazing distances when things didn’t work out quite like they should.
Apparently, my old man wasn’t very good at home repair projects, either.
Things didn’t get much better for me in junior high school, when I took two years of industrial arts classes. It wasn’t for lack of effort by the teachers — former Troy Junior High School industrial arts teacher Mr. Maurer remains one of my favorites to this day — who did their level best (ironically, the level is one of the few tools I actually can use with any sort of proficiency) to teach me.
I think some kids aren’t very good at math, some kids aren’t very good at history and some kids aren’t very good at shop class. Truthfully, I probably wasn’t very good at any of them — it just so happens that the latter was probably the worst of the three for me.
As luck would have it, however, when it came time to do our big group project for the semester, I was put into a group with a kid who actually knew what he was doing. The kid had complete mastery over tools that, had I used them, probably would have led to me messing up Mr. Maurer’s classroom floor with copious amounts of my own blood and, quite possibly, an internal organ or two.
So I basically let that kid do all the hard parts on the project. In return, I wrote his English papers for him.
This hasn’t changed much now that I’ve entered adulthood. Whenever there’s something that needs fixing around our house — and this could be anything from a furnace to a squeaky door hinge — I call in an expert who stands little chance of losing an appendage while fixing things around my house. Instead of writing English papers for him, I pay him piles of money.
Things sure were a lot easier when I could pay in English papers.
So when our furnace broke last week, I reached for the only tool I actually keep in our house — my cell phone. I then deftly used that to call in an expert (it only took me three tries to get his number right)!
I then pulled out all the blankets and space heaters I could find and made sure my family was wrapped tightly for the next few days until he could get out to fix our furnace. Apparently, furnace repair people get pretty busy when the temperature dips down to minus-800 degrees.
In any event, though, I am happy to report that as I type this with my no-longer-frozen fingers, our new furnace is chugging right along and our house is warm and cozy. Hopefully things will stay that way until the next Ice Age hits Ohio.
If not, I’m going to have to use a whole lot of those bad words I learned from helping my dad.
David Fong appears on Thursdays in the Troy Daily News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong.