We’ve all heard it said that when troubles hit, they arrive as triplets.
This week bears me out, and I’m not even talking about the triple-digit blues. A plumber, an exterminator and an appliance clerk all walked into Peggy’s bank account. The punchline isn’t funny, but misery loves company, even if I can’t hear you chuckling, so here goes.
Education is often a benefit of challenges. I learned, for instance, that the carpenter ants who came to dinner are not like termites that actually eat your house. These hard-working individuals merely chew cavities into the walls for nesting to rear their young. Commendable, in a way.
Let me offer this household hint — if you notice a light skiff of wood fibers blanketing your stove, do not swipe it away, turning a blind eye in hopes the storm has passed. Oatmeal has enough fiber without adding the frass left behind by these mislabeled creatures. Carpenters build things. Carpenter ants destroy. I guess it’s all in the perspective.
I called an outfit in Grants Pass called Bugs Northwest. They cover the entire valley and had a man on my doorstep a few days later. Justyn appeared smiling pleasantly with extermination on his mind. I showed him where the beasties made their entrance, when he spied something else — a yellow jacket nest tucked slyly under my hose bib. I’d walked by it a dozen times never knowing it was there, but Justyn spotted it right off, maybe because he’s been surprised the hard way.
I told him about my resident paper wasps under the front door eaves, but he said they were nonaggressive pollinators, so I granted them a pardon. But Justyn returned a few days later with his bee suit regalia, ready to bag the yellow jacket nest. I took pictures during the process, then made a beeline for the door. These guys have tagged me twice before. Their weaponry is not like a bee sting, but like being gouged with a fiery poker for hours. Justyn, still smiling, brought the angry, bagged individuals to show me, and said all went smoothly.
I asked him if he’d always wanted to be an exterminator. He said no, but that he had sort of fallen into it and liked the work. I’m constantly amazed and relieved that there are folks out there who enjoy doing things I would abhor. God bless them, I say.
The same week the ants were marching one by one, my trusty, yet ancient washing machine went kaput during the night. I woke to a flotilla of clothing. I mean, couldn’t the loyal so and so even spin the last load while gasping out its last? I dipped into the cold, murky water to retrieve my clothes, ringing them out piece by piece. Then I proceeded to dip 40 gallons of water from washer to bathtub. I did this in two 20-gallon installments.
The learning curve of this second challenge included discovering how much yuck can accumulate under big, heavy appliances that never get moved, and how fast I can move to clean it up before sweaty delivery guys on a tight schedule lug in the new one.
One plug belongs here for good old Sears department store, where I purchased my shiny new Kenmore. I arrived when they opened at 10 o’clock and was out the door before 11 o’clock even after looking at shoes. The hour proved simple, uncluttered and even enjoyable because of one knowledgeable, yet non-intrusive sales person named Sally, who has served there for 18 years. It’s comforting to know some stores remain available for those who appreciate great customer service
Challenge number three involved a plumber telling me the tub faucet and handles that I’d ordered online wouldn’t work (see Lowe’s column a few weeks back). He had to snap a picture of the handle valves, while telling me it might take a while because he’d have to send it to the Smithsonian to see if there was a match.
Ain’t life grand? Yes, indeed.
— Peggy Dover is a freelance writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.