Sunday, July 27, 2008

file under live and learn

The two larger burners on my stove have been out of commission for a while (one for several years, one for several months). The electrical and plumbing contractors we use (when we can get them), recommended an electrician who worked on electrical appliance (since they don't). So I called him. The guy was at least 75, which is pretty typical; there is a dearth of young people willing and able to go through the training and apprentice to create a new generation of skilled blue collar workers in this region (perhaps everywhere). He came and took a look, and said it was the two switches, which would probably run $50 or $60 dollars a piece.

I said go ahead and order them. A week later he called to say that the switches were in, and came with a helper to install them. When we turned the power back on, one of the burners came on, but the other did not. A few minutes of additional examination and he showed me the problem. The socket into which the burner plugged was burned out and one of the wires had even burned loose and was no longer connecting. My immediate thought -- why didn't he look at this first, a week ago? It was entirely possible that there was nothing wrong with the switch at all.

He made no suggestions about fixing the burned socket, and I made no suggestions either. Just thanked him for the job and paid him the $180 he asked for ($120 for the two switches and $60 for labor and travel) and sent him on his way.

Twenty-four hours after he left the second "fixed" burner stopped working also. Since he never checked the socket on it either, I'm guessing that it has the same problem.

So we are now $180 poorer, and the two larger burners on the stove still don't work. At least the money is circulating in the local economy!

Putting this all in perspective, I have electricity, and I have two burners that are small but work fine. I have a microwave and an oven. I've had less in my life, and I know that the vast majority of humans have less today. I probably wouldn't have even bothered to try getting them fixed if John (who does more cooking than I do) hadn't been complaining frequently about how he couldn't cook properly with just two itty bitty burners.

If it weren't for the fact that we'd like to replace the entire trailer (and all the appliances) within two years this wouldn't be a dilemma. It seems like a waste of resources (and money) to purchase a new stove top at this point. But its so annoying to listen to John whine about the difficulties of cooking. What to do?


Qaro said...

It's unfortunate that the repairman didn't turn out to be all that great.

Here's what I think. A top of the line stove would cost you $1,000. You can subtract the $180 you've already spent on stove expense this year and still get a very nice new stove for $800. If you are going to get a new stove in 2 years anyway, and you will have a lot of expenses connected with getting a new trailer, you could cut down a little on the future expenses, and take $1,000 off the purchase price of the new trailer because you don't need a stove. Since you cared enough to try to get it fixed in the first place, you don't really want your husband to be halfway miserable for another two years. $15 a week for a year can budget for your new stove. (That's not really taking interest on credit into account, but it sounds good.)

Sue said...

qaro -- thank you, I hadn't thought of it in quite that way, and that's very useful!

Qaro said...

Neat! I'm not trying to make you spend money. I am REALLY frugal myself. Except when it comes to relationships. I get generous when it will make people I care about happy. What's money vs. happiness?

But my BIG exception is cable TV. We get 6 channels over the air for free in Toledo. (One is home shopping network, but still.) We watch a lot of PBS. There are dozens of shows I'm missing out on. Eh--It's just TV. Gives my kids something to complain about. : )

Sue said...

I grew up in a household where the television did not work between the years when I was 11 and when I was 17. My parents were extremely restrictive with TV in any case, and I actually found it easier (and create more of a stir) when some one asked me if I'd seen something to say "oh, we don't have TV" rather than to have to say "my parents won't let me watch that." The big TV shows when I was in middle school were Peyton Place (a night time soap) and The Fugative. I'm sure my parents would never have let me watch either of those!

Qaro said...

My kids love to complain about there lack of cable. It gets them invited to friends' houses. I'll talk to you in a few days!