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Monthly Archives: October 2012

I’ve always liked fairy tales. I made the transition early in second grade to the big kids section at my elementary library. After all, it held the Great Blue Book of fairy tales, The Great Red Book of fairy tales and last but not least in an early fan, the Great Yellow Book of fairy tales.  Whether these are the actual titles, who knows. This was the color of the books that first won my fancy. Nancy Drew was next.

As an adult, I learned fairy tales could have been ways for people to discuss the King and politics of the time without being drawn and quartered for treason. Our Bill of Rights makes us forget that to speak your mind has been more perilous than public condemnation that we risk today.

With a few years under my belt or stretching my belt as happens, I realize some of the characters in fairy tales may have been ordinary people with whom circumstances took its toll. For example trolls, imagine what you would look like if you lived under a bridge. Having a mean nasty temperament would be no stretch for me in those conditions. Cannibalism is disgusting but we know about the Donner party and other tales.

Back to the White Knight, I met him last Friday. He has come in many forms and no he was not a love of my life. He was once again an ordinary person; but, this time I was changed as a result.

Our hot water heater broke and I called the plumber. The plumbing company sent a plumber who diagnosed the problem as a broken thermostat. He replaced the thermostat for $187.50. I know a thermostat costs about $14 retail; but, I considered the cost of a multimeter and they have to pay for gas and their schedule can be erratic. Plus there is the convenience of having hot water within hours and I did not have to learn anything.

He replaced the thermostat. Then he went out to smoke which I thought was unusual. He came back in and held the hotwater outtake pipe as if it was urgent. Then he ran water for a long time at the kitchen sink. He told me one of the elements had burned out. That would cost $140. Being discouraged, I said no. A big part of the estimate was the repair significantly cheaper than having the tank replaced. A new tank installed would be about $500. I was sick about cutting my loses at $187.50. Who has that kind of money to throw around unless you are buying and selling a home. Then you throw thousands around like you are a millionaire.

He made the mistake of telling me he would keep the circuit pulled because the hot water heater would burn up if he put it back in. I knew that did not sound right. I read about replacing an element. That’s when I found out they are replaced along with the thermostat as maintenance.

I go to the big box home improvement store. I ask the guy about the wiring. You’re just completing a circuit. One wire on each post. Two wires and two posts is uncomplicated. Just drain the hot water heater. I bought a multimeter. When I tested the elements they were fine. Still uneasy about the hot water heater burning. I called the man who fixes my well. He gave me the name of a man who was a licensed plumber as well as electrician, HVAC technician and boilermaker. He owned a business with 30 employees.

Like most heroes  he was ordinary. Nice looking but not a GQ kind of guy. Average height, slim and wiry from work, he checked my heater’s circuits. He gave me a short lesson on replacing thermostats and elements. Except for draining the heater for the element replacement, the complicity was on the level of changing a lightbulb.

There was no damage to the hot water heater element. Matter of fact with my new found knowledge, I turned the thermostat down with a screwdriver. I have a developmentally delayed older brother that lives with me. Incredibly hot water is not a good idea with small children or individuals who are challenged.

I offered the man money. He would not take it. It made him sick that I had been overcharged previously. 

It changed me a little. You get so use to the parasites, you forget there are people who are motivated more by money or what directly benefits them. One little irony I have always noticed. So many people like the plumber have nothing. The man who would not take my payment probably does OK money wise. I taught school and did much for children over the years. I worked with others who had a great deal of compassion. I worked with a teacher who took a child to the doctor because of a wound that did not heal. I bought shoes for a child.

What did the plumber look like? An ordinary person. He was quiet like so many children I taught. If he had asked me for the money, I would have gave it to him. I wonder what his commission was. He was so arrogant he left his business card. I realize he assumed I would be stupid and scared. Well I was. There are worse things like greedy and callous. 

 

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