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Monday, July 30, 2012

MAHALO

When you're retired, the smallest thing becomes a mountain because stress is relative.  Any new minor pain anywhere in your body and you think the worst.  My frontal lobe was seriously being challenged.  A leaking toilet creates mental havoc.  

I once ran a sugar factory, and there are various ways to say this, but one is to "never fix anything that is working."  Well, I've had both a washer/dryer (W/D) and side-by-side freezer-refrigerator (F/R) that have both performed flawlessly for 15 years.  As an engineer, I find this amazing.  But, then, you think, maybe my luck will soon run out, so wouldn't it be smart as a wise act of preventative maintenance to maintain zero defects by replacing these appliances, now.  So I went to Best Buy / Pacific Sales and within minutes purchased new ones.  



I was soon to leave on a long trip, so I delayed delivery until six weeks in the future.  Upon return, expecting a call on a Thursday as to when they would be delivering the next day, I waited.  Kind of reminds me of the joke about this soldier who drops off a pair of civilian shoes to be fixed, but is sent to war in an emergency.  A year later he returns, with the ticket.  Says the proprietor, after rummaging around in the back, "it will be ready next week." Worried by the late afternoon, I call them and learn that, sorry, someone in the meantime had bought my washer/dryer (what!!!) so the next shipment might arrive in a month or so, maybe.  Irritated, I drove to the store to express my annoyance and  arranged to have the W/D replaced with another one from another company that was in stock.  Unfortunately, it is in the warehouse of a competitor.  But my untrustworthy sales agent indicated it would be a simple matter of e-mailing a request and I should know for sure in a few days.  Can you believe anything of what I am saying?  Anyway, delivery did come the following week.  Here is where the nightmare started.

First, they had to remove the handle on the F/R to squeeze it into the kitchen.  If the appliance had been a sixteenth of an inch deeper, this would have been impossible.

Secondly, if you live in an apartment (my apartment looking down from my roof), there are two valves each opening and closing the water flow to your W/D and F/R.  The deliverers do not touch those valves.  That is the apartment owners responsibility.  After 15 years, both valves are frozen.  It is even worse for one valve, as the handle to turn it is missing.  Those deliverers can only wait 15 minutes before they take everything back and charge you for re-delivery.


So I did a very, very stupid thing.  I used a pair of pliers to try to turn the valve with no handle.  This breaks a seal and water begins to spurt into the room.

Let me backtrack six months and summarize that my neighbor two doors down the hallway suffered a water leakage caused by a plumber and just recently had everything again okay.  The damage to his apartment (he had to move into a hotel for a month) and the one below must have been in six figures.



With this thought in mind, my heart almost stopped and brain went into panic.  The apartment only allows stoppage of water flows once a month, usually at 9AM on a Wednesday.  Emergencies can be very expensive.  For those two valves (because another couple of bolts appeared to be locked) to be replaced, the entire water supply for the building has to be shut off.


This is where I got really, really lucky.  I caught the elevator downstairs and saw in the lobby both the chief security officer, Russ, and maintenance man, Don.  This might happen once a month.  I explained my problem, they winced, kind of scolded me and raced to action.  Russ said there was a plumber on the 11th floor and he would see what he could do about getting him to quickly come to my apartment.  He directed Don to go up to a side valve on my floor and close the valve to all the refrigerators, hoping no one would complain for a short stoppage.  In the meantime, this I did not know, but there are two bolts that can stop the flow of the hot and cold water lines so that the valve to the W/D can be fixed.  I couldn't turn them and neither could the deliverers.   However, Russ took his turn and succeeded.  Those heroic actions enabled work to proceed on the W/D, but the plumber was in the middle of fixing something else, so it took almost half an hour to look at my problem.  The Pacific Sales people actually waited during this period, which was also unexpected.


Louis, the plumber, was an angel.  He quickly replaced the important valve to my F/R (and the fact that he was carrying a spare was a miracle), and did enough for the W/D that on first load everything worked.  Everyone was happy and the deliverers left.  While, as would be expected, it took forever for the freezer and refrigerator to cool, there was no food spoilage through this ordeal. Even the icemaker worked on first try.

Well, this was not the end of the nightmare, as the next day, on the second load, I saw water on the floor, which meant something was leaking from the washer.  I arranged for Louie's company to return, and Otis changed the valve and found a faulty rubber washer connecting the line to the W/D.  He also better balanced the washer, so, finally, I can now sleep comfortably.

Q (building superintendent), I really appreciated what Russ and Don did, far above their call to duty.  Mahalo  (thank you in Hawaiian).

Louis, you and your staff were wonderful.  Mahalo.

There is a third mahalo, for the other day I noticed that the symbol for low tire pressure showed in the dashboard of my Honda Fit.  This car is not quite four years old, but I have seen that symbol four times, the previous three when the Honda mechanics found a screw, nail and piece of metal in the tires.  So this fourth time I did not bother to determine which tire was faulty.  I immediately around mid-morning drove to Pflueger Honda Downtown, where I bought the car.  K.C. listened to me and led me to the waiting room.  Five minutes later he returned and asked when was the last time I added air to my tires.  I said several months ago, and really meant the time of the last flat, which could have been six months or more.  He said that all the pressures were between 26 and 28 and that he aired them up to 32 and all should be fine.  He indicated that the symbol lights when the pressure drops to 27 pounds per square inch.  He indicated that I should return there every two months to have someone top the pressure up to 32.  FREE!!  Both for this fix-up and future air.  I didn't know they had this service.  He said that many of those air pumps at service stations have added coin operated versions.  So big MAHALOS to KC and Pflueger Honda Downtown.  I might finally add that their service personnel is so much better than Servco's.

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