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Published:May 3rd, 2011 17:02 EST
An Owner's Manual For Everything

An Owner's Manual For Everything

By Donna Cavanagh

I learned early on in my relationship with my engineer husband that he could fix almost anything. I first discovered this amazing talent when we were dating. He souped up my old stereo that I had in my college dorm, and I have to say my speakers became the envy of both males and females who lived on my floor. After we got married, I could rely on him to fix anything from a toaster to a washing machine to a computer.

It was not hard to get spoiled by this live-in miracle worker. When my daughter came along, she also fell under the spell. As a toddler, she would greet him at the door with broken doll or toy and say "Daddy, fix?"

He would look at the toy and respond,"I`m not sure I can, Honey."

She would just repeat again, "Daddy, fix?" And Daddy would fix.

As she grew older, the scene was not quite as sweet. He would get the frustrated calls from college, "Dad, this computer is a piece of crap. It`s not working right"

"It`s not a piece of crap. I just paid $800 for it. What the hell do you do with it?"

And the tender conversation between father and daughter continued until the problem was solved via phone. In my daughter`s defense (and I rarely go this route when her attitude is less than desirable), she gets her impatience with electronics from me. I do the same thing. At the first sign of trouble, I panic and call him at work and curse about the crappy computer that will not perform as quickly or as efficiently as I would like. To be honest, my computer could operate at speeds in excess of Warp 10, and some days it would not be fast enough for me.

My husband says there is no great mystery as to why he is so good at fixing things. He believes that if one reads the manuals, one understands the workings of electronics, appliances, cars, etc. When we buy a car, he knows exactly where everything is on the car before he takes it out of the dealership. Me, I learn as I go along. Usually, it is when I am in a driving rain that I realize that I do not know where the windshield wiper switch is.

"Why can`t you read the manuals?" He asks usually in a frustrated voice. "They explain everything."

"If they had a plot or a good solid story line, I would, but they are boring, and there is no need for me to read them when I have you."

I admit that I have taken advantage of his manual reading personality. I just got a new cell phone because my other one mysteriously wound up in the wash. So, when we got home from the phone store, I handed him the phone and the manual and said,
"Let me know the basics of what I have to do."

That night he gave me a cell phone lesson, and so far I am okay. I still don`t know how to do video or call waiting, but that is lesson two. I will learn it, just not by reading the manual.

My husband`s biggest fear is that he will die and I won`t know how to handle any of the appliances when they go on the fritz because I don`t read the operation manuals. I try to explain to him that if he dies, number one, there are appliance repairmen who I could pay to fix the appliances and number two, and most importantly, I will probably have other things on my mind besides the appliances. I am not sure but I think there would be a lot of details that need taking care of before I start saying, "Gee, I should have listened to him. I don`t how to replace the belt on the vacuum cleaner. Where did he put the manual?"

I think for our anniversary one year, I might get him something big and complicated like a riding mower or a pressure washer, but that will not be the real gift. The real gift will be that I will teach him how to use it because I would have already read the manual.