So an amusing feature of the purchase of the refrigerator I bought to replace the one I bought in 2013, to replace the one that had been running 18 years except the door finally fell off, was the number of times I got called Sir.

This is just the latest of a litany of appliance failures. When I moved in, my then plumber opined that the water heater was about 35 years old and still going strong. About seven years later it showed signs of, you should pardon the expression, tanking and we got a new one. Thirteen years later I was told the bottom was on the way to rusting out.

Then there were the washing machines. For all my working life I’ve done something like 25 sets of sheets a week. I beat the crap out of washers. The front loader I bought in 2000 lasted nine years; the next one, barely four; the one after that, two and a half, and one after that croaked just after the end of the two year parts warranty. The repairman I called — a guy with clear anger management problems and indifferent cell phone skills — managed to finally look up the company website on his phone, swearing all the while, and told me it wasn’t worth what I’d pay to fix the washer.

This is what you hear now. By the time he left I had extracted the information that one brand of washer, and only one, made the agitation mechanism the way they used to, when machines didn’t faint if you used them. Only one independent store in the area handled them — the big Sears and Home Depot type dealers sold only the instabreakers — and I paid out the wazoo, whereupon we instantly went into a pandemic and those 25 loads a week were a matter for history.

The 2013 fridge had its first breakdown at 18 months — a fried circuit board which refried again, like beans, a couple of years after the first replacement. Some time after that the onboard defrosting cycle went wonky and the repairman told me it was because the food I had stored in the freezer drawer stuck out a little over the top. You got me. That fix lasted until a couple of weeks ago when the fridge started warming up again.

I said Fuck It and called the fancy dealer again. The fridge appeared two days later (I had all the windows open, forced KN95 masks on the deliverymen, and ran the Corsi-Rosenthal air filter until a half hour after they left, because everyone has gone insane).

This time it only took two days. The freezer is full of frost and the naked eye (at least the Engineer’s, because I am only half blind now rather than nearly blind) can see the gap between the gasket seal and the refrigerator door.

This refrigerator cost more in absolute dollars than my first car. Fucksake. Part is on order.

But there’s always something to make you smile, and for me, it’s the salesman calling me Sir on the phone, and the repairman calling me Sir when he scheduled his visit. I am a light baritone (all my shower arias are parts like Scarpia and Hans Sachs) and this happens a lot. I think it gets me some respect. I’ve gotten it to my face when I’m wearing a jacket and hat. The times being what they are, I’m waiting for someone to try throwing me out of a women’s bathroom, except that for the foreseeable future, I’m not going into any public bathrooms because this friggin thing is not over and in a mask, no one can tell if you’re Sir or Ma’am anyway. It could be the solution to a lot of problems.

6 thoughts on “Sir

  1. You’ve heard my “minnie mouse” voice… whether speaking in English or Spanish on the phone even people I hardly ever speak to on the phone still always know it’s ME.

    Luckily kitchen appliances are the responsibility of my landlord to replace (they are never worth repairing) and I keep wishing my washing machine or fridge would kick the bucket so I could get a better version. No such luck. HOWEVER my stupid smart TVs seem to give out after about 4-5 years. Laptops too.

  2. When my refrigerator– a bottom-freezer design that regularly froze the vegetables in the drawers as well–puked, I found a free vintage Kenmore top-freezer design which works even better. I’m still happily using my 1991-era Maytag washer and dryer. I know these are more environmentally costly in electricity and water, but avoiding the manufacturing and transportation associated with replacing them has to count for something.

    And as a low alto with a credible tenor range, I get addressed as “sir” a lot as well.

    • Oh god, the Fridge That Freezes Things. Had a lot of that with the one that just crapped out. And I did in fact fantasize about perhaps locating a 20 year old unit somewhere. I wonder if there’s a marketplace for things like that.

  3. He was right about Home Depot etc. Four or five years ago I replaced my water heater. The plumber said just get one, he’d put it in. I had HD deliver a Rheem. It ceases to function every eighteen to twenty-four months. I fix it be replacing a control module. I’ve done that three times now. Rheem will pay for it every time until the thing is ten years old. Seeking advice, I talked to a different plumber about it. He said Rheem went to shit and that’s why HD sells it. There’s only one good brand left. Of course I forget what it was.

    • The washing machine, in case anyone needs to know, was Speed Queen. All the other ones are assembled out of parts made all over everywhere with a breakdown-prone spin mechanism.

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