Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Learning Never Stops

Anybody who thinks their education ends the day they walk out of high school might as well be smoking dope, because they could not be more clueless. When you leave high school (or college), life’s teachers take over and they can be harsh. In the school of life, you get the test, BEFORE you get the lesson. These lessons can be quite expensive and if you don’t learn the first time, you get to take the course again and again until you learn it. Yes, I’m here to tell you, every day’s a school day. 

This week’s lesson for me came when I tried to install a new dishwasher. Let me start at the beginning.

We’ve had our old dishwasher for years and have washed a train load of dirty dishes, but earlier this week, when we opened the door to take out the clean dishes, the bottom was full of foul smelling water. Now that I think of it, the water was just slightly less disgusting than our drinking water’s been over the last few weeks…but I digress. (Note to those who don't live near me in Empire, Alabama - we've had problems with the water supply that has made it almost undrinkable. This was a jab at the city fathers.)

When I did the math, I realized the dishwasher was about twelve years old so it seemed reasonable to me that it needed to be replaced. The search for a new one began.

I priced a few units in Birmingham and I found some in our range, but I really like doing business closer to home. When I ran by the local appliance store I found just the unit we wanted. With a swipe of a debit card and a handshake, we were on the way home.

My brother-in-law who is a master plumber offered to help, but he stays really busy, and I hated to bother him, so I decided to install the new dishwasher myself — STRIKE ONE.

I removed the screws that secured the old unit to the cabinet and I began to slide it back and forth to get it out, I heard something snap. I thought to myself, this can’t be good! A moment later, the copper pipe was gushing hot water like a fire hydrant from behind the dishwasher. I’d forgotten to turn off the water BEFORE I started the replacement. I was quickly sloshing around in water and my mind felt as if I had a head full of cold molasses because I couldn’t remember where the cutoff valve was located. — STRIKE TWO.

When my brain finally decided to join me, I dashed to the shed, snatched up a crescent wrench and ran, toward the water cut off valve down by the mailbox. Anyone viewing this from a distance would have thought I’d stepped in a yellow jacket nest.

When I got back inside, the water was almost deep enough to water ski. Jilda fetched all the towels in the closet and began drying the floors.

It was then she phoned her brother and asked him to come over and assist me. He walked in shaking his head knowingly. But in a matter of minutes he analyzed the situation and we were in the truck heading to the plumbing supply store to get parts. The rest of the job went smoothly, and soon we were loading the new dishwasher for its maiden voyage. I listened intently to all the clicks and whirrs of the new unit and I found myself smiling. The smile quickly vanished when I opened up the new dishwasher to unload the clean dishes and found the bottom full of water, just like the old unit.

As it turns out, it appears a $10 air valve in the sink, through which the dishwashers drain, went bad and caused the problem — STRIKE THREE.

So, what did life teach the Rickster today? Well, I learned NOT to assume. I learned to take time for due diligence and isolate problems BEFORE digging deep into my wallet to buy unneeded appliances. And, if a professional offers you help, take it!!!


  1. I'm sorry to laugh at your troubles - but you wrote it so darned entertainingly!

  2. Anonymous10:27 PM

    Life school to me is the school of hard knocks and cheap pops but keep it up tim the toolman taylor.

  3. I learned valuable lessons today reading this - thank you! I must take a plumbling course! LOL!

    Take care

  4. Ouch...expensive lesson learned. Thanks for the tip!

  5. Great lesson. Sometimes we just have to learn the hard way and laugh about it along the way... I am enjoying reading your posts!

  6. oh man! sounds like something that would happen here.

  7. This story was my column in the Lifestyle section of the local paper last Sunday and I've had people stop me in Wal-Mart laughing (good heartedly) about my misfortune :)

  8. Yikes. That really stinks. And I don't just mean the water.

    I love your quote about getting the test before you get the lesson. SO true!

  9. ugh. hate it when that happens. may you remember your lesson in time for the next disaster. :)


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