There’s No Such Thing…

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… as an easy job.

No, I’m not talking about professional employment.  I’m talking about home repairs.  The “cup is half full” approach would be expressed as “the greater the challenge, the greater the reward.”  I would rather avoid the cup altogether, but… God so ordains.  Entropy happens.  Stuff breaks.  And while the option is always there to pay a more qualified person to do the work, sometimes I just want to conquer those smaller challenges that seem within reach.  Hardware stores count on it.

I’m generally not a “fix-it” type person.  Still, necessity grows a boy to a man when it comes to home repair/improvement.  The evolution might be as follows:

  • Changing light bulbs. (you have to start somewhere)
  • Hanging pictures (level, but of course with mandatory supervision)
  • Assembling “furniture in a box”
  • Painting a room
  • Building a 6’ privacy fence
  • Assembling kids toys
  • Installing a ceiling fan
  • Replacing a spool of plastic twine in a weed-eater
  • Replacing leaky valves in toilets
  • Router/WiFi/Network setup
  • Installing a dishwasher

And so on.  Each sounds easy, but there’s always the one tool needed that has not yet come to rest in the tool box, the one screw that wasn’t turned quite far enough, the cut finger on something marginally related to the task at hand (packaging), the “understanding” that comes from reading the instructions the 4th or 5th time after repeated failures, the preparation, the clean up…  Whatever “it” is to be done, it takes much longer than expected, and it is rarely as easy as 1-2-3.  Yes, even changing a light bulb can be a problem when the existing bulb gets stuck in the socket.  Why? Because there’s no such thing as an easy job.

And, so it was on that fateful day that I went back to revisit an earlier chapter in my instruction: Ceiling Fan Installation.  The ceiling fan in my master bedroom stopped working before last summer, so while some may think that a year later is terribly overdue, I would add that the mounted lighting unit worked just fine, and there is always A/C.   Also, considering there was no spousal pressure, the actual due date remains by default to “first complaint + 6 months.”   

Well, she left for a few days, and I thought to myself, “Self, why don’t you tackle that that there project and surprise her when she returns by completing that job wayyyyyyyyyy early?”  Good idea.  I mean, it’s back there in Chapter 7, right?

I’ve installed or replaced several ceiling fans.  No big deal.  The only glitch in my skill set is that the particular fan in question is mounted on an extension rod that descends from a peaked ceiling about 16’ high to approximately 10’.  That’s way up there.  And I don’t have a ladder for that.  Upon further consideration, first complaint + 6 months remains a valid option.   

But, I press on.  I borrow a friends 7’ ladder.  Not surprisingly, it lets me access the lighting fixture just fine, but it isn’t suitable for the fan motor housing.    Fine.  Upon the initiation of any project, it’s a known factor that completion will require x many trips to the hardware store or other places.  x is a variable, and it’s already varying, because that’s what it does.  I can’t yell at it or take out a seething, frustrated loathing upon it.  After all, is not the cause of my problem but rather a result of the Handyman’s Law:  “There’s no such thing as an easy job.”   I drive back to his house, stuff his 10’ ladder into the SUV (Bungees… a handyman’s best friend) and try again.  This time, I’m eyeball to eyeball with my “work surface.”  Go me.

  • Remove light bulbs.  Check.
  • Remove light globes. Check.
  • Remove light unit?  Dunno, but check anyway.
  • Remove fan blades.  Check.
  • Study the situation.

The fan has wires.  Where do the wires connect?  Is it in the pole?  Where and how do I disconnect the fan from the pole?  Hmm.  I read through the manual of my spiffy new ceiling fan, but, alas, there are no tips on how it would be installed on an extension rod.  Reverse engineering is thus thwarted.

  • Consult internet.  Many sites; no dice.
  • Consult Mr. Fix It.

Mr. Fix It is my father-in-law, who has every tool known to man and seems happiest when one is in his hand, whether it is mechanical, plugs into an outlet, or drives a white ball 270 yards.  Luckily, Mr. Fix It hasn’t  had enough things to fix lately and arrives twenty minutes later.  

Upon his inspection, it appears that I disassembled more of the fan unit than was required, but, hey, I was looking for the spot where this one comes off and that one goes on and the wires are connected and life is good. That’s the fantasyland of those laboring within “there’s no such thing as an easy job.”

As robust as the 10’ ladder is, it, falls perilously short of safely reaching the 15’ peak of the ceiling, from whence the whole contraption hangs and wherein the wires are happily mated.  But of course.  Why?  (Say it with me now…) Because there’s no such thing as an easy job!

Mr. Fix It returns the following day with a double sided, 14’ Behemoth Ladder, strapped to the Mr. Fix It trailer that makes its appearances for just such occasions as this.  Aside from the usual contortions of bringing a Behemoth through doors at the proper angles without removing paint or punching holes through sheetrock, this rascal also presented a challenge vertically.  Sure, 15’ is the peak of the ceiling, but the sloped ceiling on either side just begs for Behemoth abuse.  Thus, the act of erecting a ladder also falls victim to our phrase of the day.  We had to stand the ladder in the middle of the room, then spread its legs at the same time to avoid damage to the ceiling.  Lovely.  

By the way, there’s quite a view from atop the Behemoth.  Sure, you can see the mounting plate.  You can also see the floor way down below, but you forget about the ceiling behind your head, which, by the way, hurts. 

So, the old fan comes down, the wires attached to the new ceiling fan are forced through the extension rod with the tried and true but as yet unpatented CHT (coat hangar tool), and up we go our respective flanks of the Behemoth, me carrying the dead weight, and Mr. Fix It ready to do the dirty work at the top.  Which he does, admirably.

Hey, here’s an idea!  Let’s test it before we go further.  Flip the fan switch on the wall… nothing.   This is expected, of course.  It’s nothing but a minor setback.  Of course there’s a reason for it.  Let’s think about this.  Electricity flows to the wiring connection, and then to the fan.  What is missing?  Mr. Fix It suggests attaching the lighting section, because the fan’s pull cord is actually mounted to that.  And ifMr. Fix It atop the Behemoth it’s mounted to the lighting unit, then there’s obviously an electrical control there.  Mr. Fix It is just plain brilliant.


Thus accomplished, flip the switch, and?  This isn’t really surprising, is it?  Because (and you’re not more tired of this than me) there’s no such thing as an easy job

Thereupon, I surprise Mr. Fix It by being in the possession of a multimeter, a gizmo used to test voltage, current, resistance, etc.  Just because Mr. Fix It has the complete Sears tool collection, it doesn’t mean he brings them all with him.  Score one for the home team.

Apply leads to the connection at the ceiling and…?   No surprise.  Zero current on the fan wire.  Let’s apply logic.  How about the light wires?  Houston, we have liftoff. 

Hmm. If there’s current on one, and not the other… Did we make a faulty assumption that the hip bone was connected to the leg bone?   Yes, let’s try the wall switch itself.  Remove the cover, insert probes and…?  Nada.  Nothing.  Which means what?  Some squirrely rodent chewed through a wire in the attic?  Before I can petition a theoretical Patron Saint of Home Repair, Mr. Fix It is off with his Mr. Fix It trailer to the hardware store, to buy a $4 light switch. 

What does this amount to? 

1)  Money.  $90 for a ceiling fan, $22 for a half day Behemoth rental, $4 for a replacement light switch, and further indentured servitude to Mr. Fix It should he ever call.  That’s $116 for a $4 fix.  I mean, that’s a governmental formula.

2) Appreciation.  Everyone should have a Mr. Fix It.  Long may they run.

3) Satisfaction. Sure, there’s no such thing as an easy job, but a completed job is its own reward.  Even when your spouse doesn’t notice. 

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