Monday, January 14, 2008
We dodged the blizzard today, but I got hit with the gunk.
The huge snowstorm that was supposed to hit last night never happened, as the weather people appear to have the success rate of a New Hampshire pollster.
Of course, I'm in no position to point fingers.
Many years ago while working at a small paper in Pennsylvania, I was the author of a story headlined "Major Snowstorm Misses Poconos," which I suspect many readers never saw as they were too busy digging out the 9 feet of snow that hit the Poconos right between the eyes.
I have mercifully forgotten what precipitated that particular screw-up, but I remember being sure about the story before I left the paper that night--something reporters always say after the fertilizer hits the air conditioning unit.
Screw all that--I don't do weather stories any more, so I feel free to complain.
I had planned to get up early this morning so I could shovel before going to work, but when I looked out the window at 6 a.m. there was only rain on the sidewalk, not snow.
Well, my dad used to say you can't shovel rain, so I was relieved, but a little confused.
Then while I was washing the breakfast dishes, I realized something else was missing: the heat. My oil burner was had gone silent and the water coming out of the faucet was cold and getting colder.
Oh, yes, just what I need for a Monday morning. Naturally the oil burner was working perfectly on Sunday, when I didn't have anywhere to go.
My computer was giving me grief on that day, so I guess whatever hairy-ass gremlin that had been occupying my hard drive skated down to the basement and took up residence in my boiler.
I monkeyed around with the thermostat, listening intensely for any sounds of life coming from down below. Nothing, not a peep out of the bastard.
My morning shower was a nightmare, alternating between lukewarm and freezing cold. I handled it like an adult, however, cursing and fuming and shaking my fist at the heavens while wailing, "why me?"
I really am working on the anger, but today did not represent a step forward. Finally I called the oil company and told them the story.
"Do you have oil?" the guy asked.
I didn't scream or curse, or holler "of course I do, you fucking moron, how stupid do you think I am?!?"
I simply said, "yes, I have oil."
I decided to go to work and have the repair guy come fix the boiler in the evening. I was crabby all morning, snarling at anything that went wrong--late subways, slow computers. I learned that a co-worker was out sick, so I had to do his job as well.
Normally, I wouldn't mind this at all, but not today, of all days, when I felt unclean due to that lousy shower, where I was convinced my house would be a two-story ice block when I got home, and where I was sure I'd have to shell out thousands of dollars to get the heat back on.
Like I said, I handled it like an adult.
Back to the Ranch
When I was a kid, the heat went off in our home and I thought it was fun, an adventure. I said "we're living like Eskimos!" I wasn't laughing now, though.
My boss heard my tale of woe and let me go home early, so I could do my work while waiting on the repair guy.
I wasn't home 20 minutes when there was a knock on the door and there was a man with something tattooed to his neck ready to fix my oil burner.
I showed him downstairs and went about my business. My father used to hang over the repairman's shoulder, as if he actually knew what the guy was doing.
I don't know how he didn't get hit in the head with a monkey wrench, but I guess the oil company gives their people anger management lessons.
I put on a sweatshirt and tried to concentrate on my work, but every so often I'd hear the furnace come on and smile; and then it would go off and I'd start fuming.
It was like listening to a boxing match on the radio, "he's up, he's down, he's back up..." Apparently I have the Rocky Balboa of oil burners.
Finally I heard the repairman trudging up the cellar steps. I felt like a relative in a hospital waiting room.
"Is it working?" I asked.
"What was wrong with it?"
"It needed to be cleaned," he said, holding a plastic container filled with black liquid. "It had some gunk."
Gunk? Is that the technical term for the stuff in the container? I remember an old Bill Cosby routine where his garage mechanic gives him a whole long spiel about what 's wrong with his car.
When Cosby asks for a translation, the mechanic says "there's a lot of gunk in there." I wonder if there's any gunk in my computer.
I gave the guy 10 bucks and he gave me my receipt. I noticed he had a small skull tattooed on the back of his thumb.
It looks like the furnace is working now, the gunk has been routed and the blizzard has moved on to parts north.
I have to say it feels good to hear that steady rumble from below and it makes me think of people who have to sleep over subway grates to get some warmth.
I promised that this year I would make dealing with my anger the top priority and in less than a day I've had two problems come up, both of which made me very angry.
I handled them, contacted the right people and made contingency plans. But I got angry, I yelled and cursed, pretty much throwing a temper tantrum.
And, as I always do when I'm angry, I replay unpleasant memories from my life, as if I'm trying to keep my rage going.
There's no such thing as a life without anger and there are times when you really have to get angry. Still, it's better to take action than freak out.
If only I could have someone drain the gunk of my mind. But it looks like I'll have to do that one on my own.