Whalechaser's Musings

No Matter Where You Go...
There You Are
Make the Best of It

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Doing Without

Last Thursday the morning seemed to slip away from me before I realized how late it was getting.  What drove that fact home was the fact that my morning shower was not as warm as usual...I waited too long and wound up taking my shower outside of the pre-selected "on times" for my water heater.  I learned soon after I moved here to put a timer on my water heater or pay dearly every month for hot water that I wasn't using.  So, I have learned to take care of certain things early in the day.

 I was out for the day so it wasn't until I started to clean my dinner dishes that I noticed, again, that the water wasn't very warm.  I went to check the water heater and the pilot light seemed to be out.  Finished up the dishes after heating some water and then I proceeded to read the manual on how to start the water heater.  Of course, I read the instructions right there in front of the water heater in the garage; it was only 98 degrees at the time.  Sweat was dripping down my face when, with my newly acquired water heater knowledge, I went through the process of turning off and then turning on, step by step, my water heater.  Nothing.

I tried it again...still nothing.  So now I have to find a ...well at that point I wasn't sure what I needed.  Did I need a heating and a/c guy or did I need a plumber, jeez this home ownership is not the fun it is cracked up to be!  OK, I decided I needed a plumber, at least in the telephone book plumbers advertise that they repair water heaters, so I went with that.  I wasn't getting any warm fuzzies from any of the ads though, so I decided to search for a plumber online.  I found a couple pretty quickly and then looked a little further for recommendations.  It didn't take long to zero in on what seemed to be a good one.   I  made the call and left a message and hoped I would hear back soon. 

I did and the plan was for him to stop by the next morning; he said he would have to rearrange his schedule though, so he would call me as he started the trip to my place.  I was feeling pretty good that I was able to put things together so quickly.  I got up early and quickly took a cold shower and waited for that call.  It came at 7:50 AM, I was pretty happy with the way things were coming together.

Tommy took the cover off the opening to the heater and doodled with the pilot light.  it didn't work for him either.  I was feeling a little satisfaction, at least I got that part right!  So he doodled some more and disassembled the auto pilot mechanism and said he would have to drive some 30 miles to a supplier to get the part. 

He assured me he could be back in time to fix it before I had to leave at 11:30. He said he had to get it done before I left because he was going away with his wife this weekend. So I was still feeling pretty good about the way things were going.

But about an hour later Tommy called and said "You sure aren't going to like what I am about to tell you"...he said the supply house did not have the part and would not have it till Monday.  Now under normal circumstances I would have said something to show my anger or dissatisfaction but surprisingly I responded "Well, there is only one thing I can say."  "Have a good weekend."  He chuckled a little and I could hear the sound of surprise in his voice when he said he would see me on Monday.

Saturday while I was making coffee and gazing out the kitchen window, it occurred to me that the garden hose had been sitting in the sun for several hours and the first couple of gallons of water would likely be hot or very warm.  I grabbed a couple of big bowls and filled them up with very nice warm water.  Took them into the shower and proceeded to take a makeshift shower that wasn't bad at all.  I was amazed that I could shower this way and use about a gallon of water.  This was decidedly better than using the cold water straight from the shower head.  Actually, my hot water needs are not so great and my work arounds  were more than adequate for what I needed to do.  Laundry was not on my schedule for a couple of more days.  I had the chance to reflect on  some ideas  that I read about in a book titled "A guide to the Good Life" by William Irvine.  This is a book about stoicism and among the principles that are discussed is deliberately doing without something, that we might normally take for granted.  For example, deliberately taking a cold shower, or walking to the store instead of driving or doing without some modern convenience by choice. The idea being, if one does this by choice and in enough instances, should a difficult time come to pass where our comforts are no longer available for us, it will have  less of an impact on our tranquility.

I think I actually experienced that this weekend.  The water heater was not fixed until Tuesday; it was five days without hot water, but using the idea of a makeshift shower and heating the water for washing dishes was really simple and easy to do.  It was not a big deal and now that it is fixed I feel a certain confidence in knowing that I am not as dependent  as I thought I was.  My tranquility was pretty much undisturbed for the whole five days.  I suppose when one can go through life facing the trials and tribulations without having tranquility disturbed, that would be called success.

1 comment:

Julianna Schroeder said...

Interesting post, and I'm glad you found a good plumber! It's so valuable to have plumbers, electricians, carpenters, roofers, etc., whom you trust. We've lived in our house for a decade, now, and we're still working on a few of those.

Cold showers! You're fortunate that your water heater didn't go out in January! Sometimes I take a cold shower just for the cheap thrill--but that's only fun in the summertime!