Saturday, April 23, 1983
I'm repairing a dishwasher at an apartment complex in Palo Alto. I've removed the front door panel when suddenly a voice is shouting "WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU?"
He's a big burly guy with a toolbox.
"WELL I'M RED AND THIS IS MY JOB!"
The apartment manager, a little thin man, is standing behind, looking frightened. "I'm sorry," he's saying. "My wife called Red. She didn't know I'd called you."
In a wrestling match, Red would have me by 75 pounds and a mean streak. "It's all yours, Red." I pack up. I can tell from the look of the apartment manager's wife that Red may have won the battle, but he's already lost the war. I leave the door panel detached - no point undoing my work - but while Red is outside berating the apartment manager, I plug the dishwasher's electric cord back into the outlet and turn the water shutoff back on. It just seems like the right thing to do.
A week later, I'm back. The dishwasher remains unrepaired. "What happened?" I ask.
"We'll never call him again," the manager says. "First thing he does is stick his hand in there, and he nearly electrocuted himself. Then a minute later he flooded the kitchen. Then he messed around for an hour and never figured out what the problem was."
Rarely does life work out so well.
The dishwasher had two glitches, the timer and the float valve. Red got confused because it's harder to diagnose multiple breakdowns.
"I'll fix it," I say. I'm the Super Handyman. My cape is brown and slightly soiled. At this moment on this day, I could fix any problem. Sometimes the power strikes you like a beam of light. "Anything else I can do for you?"