Four appliances broke this week, more or less. Well, three did and we decided to get a four for one deal -- getting the oven door repaired by the same repairman who came to fix the clunk in our dryer. The ba-dunk, ba-dunk, ba-dunk of our dryer. We left the two faulty laptops for next week.
Friday morning, the repairmen arrived to fix the appliances an hour early. An hour before that, I had a call from my printer who was doing a last-minute rush job for me to come see the proofs. And it was a good thing I did. I needed to call my designer and wait for the changes and then a new proof. I had two wilted kids home from school -- and Wilted Kid #1 phoned me at the print shop to say that the repairmen had called to say they were on their way. We finished up our business and I raced across town to drop things to a friend who was moving this weekend. Sitting in her living room, Wilted Kid #2 phoned to say the repair truck had pulled up. I flew into motion and was home five minutes later. Reapir guy already had the top off my dryer -- "I just noticed," he said. "That you wanted an hour's notice. And I'm running really early today anyhow -- I had a cancellation."
Ten minutes later, he came to me with a small piece of metal in his hand -- the bottom piece of a metal zipper had somehow gotten into the works of the dryer. Fifteen minutes after that, he opened the faulty door of my oven and gave me the opportunity to clean off the insides of the window before he put the pieces back together again. Apparently this piece was open-able, though we had never figured out how and had resigned ourselves to having a filthy-looking glass door. Or, as I sometimes liked to think of it, a well-used glass door. He sat on his haunches on my kitchen floor while I scrubbed and scraped and generally felt like the World's Worst Housekeeper. He told me he had taken sick days the two previous days -- his first in forever -- while my wilted children ran past, miraculously revived. I felt like the World's Worst Mother.
Two hundred dollars later, he left the house. I had two now-working appliances and I should have been happy. Instead, I looked at the tiny piece of metal that had occasioned his visit, and thought about the tiny piece of metal -- a screw -- that was needed inside my oven door. Together, they might be the size of my baby fingernail.
It made me think about how little things make all the difference -- for good and for bad. A smile, a dash of cinnamon, exact change. A scowl, too much cinnamon, being five cents short.
Tomorrow is haircut and get-streaked-with-gray day. It really should be a little thing, but it feels rather huge. It reminds me of a sign we pass on our route from Waterloo to Lake Huron: the sign notes the head of the watershed: water on one side flows one way, and on the other, flows opposite. The sign is not on any apparent hill. It appears to be on flat ground. It's a little thing and yet it makes all the difference.