Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sometimes there must be blood

The first hint the washing machine might not be doing so well was an ugly grinding noise. Not long after that the shiny drum inside started looking like the wrong side of a metal door in a Sci-fi monster movie. You know the kind - where Sigourney Weaver runs fetchingly through a metal door which whooshes closed behind her ... and just as she leans back against it and draws a relieved breath into her (delightfully) heaving bosom BAM! Something powerful slams into the door, deforming the metal and making it bulge inwards towards the startled Ms Weaver. Cool when its a door in a movie (especially with Sigourney in frame), not so cool when it's the inside of your washing machine and you have vast mounds of dirt encrusted clothes that your kids gleefully pile up with wild abandon needing to be dealt with if they are not to be sent forth naked into the world (to their joy, your shame, and the tongue-clicking disapproval of the social workers).

So, it was the eternal question that faces everyone at some point in their lives: repair or replace? Repair gets the green vote - but calling in a repair man could end up almost as costly as replace ... with no guarantee that he'll be able to do any fixing and you'll end up having to replace anyway. I went with the half-way option: open that sucker up and see if either I can fix it myself or at least decide if it can be repaired.

To relieve any tension you might be having on that score, I'll let you know now that I was indeed able to open it, did discover the source of the problem - some kind of broken retaining arm which had sheered off and was tearing everything up as the drum revolved ... I'll show that to a repairman & if he thinks he can replace that, then I'll go with repair. Otherwise it is machine heaven for the old model and in with the new.

But as I was doing the opening up and investigating, I was ably assisted by my almost 14-year old son ... who kindly managed to drop a socket wrench on my knuckles. Just after, he noticed blood on my hand.
'Oh, sorry dad, I didn't realise I cut you!'
'That's OK, you didn't. I scraped it on the bolt taking the seal off. But you have to be willing to risk a little blood if you're going to try something like this!'

As we were putting the seal back on, I needed him to hold a nut still with a pliers while I tightened the bolt through it. The pliers kept slipping off.
'You need to get your hand right in there,' I said. 'Don't you know how to hold a pliers?'
'Sure I do. But I don't want to cut myself like you did.'

As I was washing the oil and dirt off my hands afterwards, I examined the damage: a little bit of skin gone from my thumb near the nail, a fair sized graze on the knuckle of my index finger, and a tiny gash in the middle of the back of my hand looking like a stigmata starter kit. Nothing major, nothing I'd noticed incurring during the course of the project, and really hardly any blood at all. And worth it in the end, because one way or another I've saved myself some money: once I take that part to a repairman, I'll know if the machine can be fixed. If it can, than that's cheaper than a new machine (and so much kinder to the planet); or it can't and I've saved myself a pointless call out charge from Mr Guy RePair and I'll just buy the new one (sorry about that, planet, but I promise to dispose of the old one in a responsible manner).

But I was thinking about the blood. About whether I'm teaching my son the right things about life. About the need to make some sacrifices sometimes. To put in the effort, to take the risks. To shed a little blood - your own blood. To realise that things can't always come easy and if you're not willing to put in the work then they won't come at all. And if this isn't something we all need to remember more often. Especially when we're weighing choices in the balance ... because the option that seems easy can actually be the most costly of all. Sometimes the hard road is the only way through.

And just to give this a happy ending ... In the movies Sigourney always takes the hard road and she always wins out in the end ... except when she dies screaming with a monster bursting from her chest as she falls headfirst into a refinery full of molten lead ... but sometimes that is the happy ending, 'cause like this post is titled: sometimes there must be blood!

No comments:

Post a Comment