Thursday, October 6, 2011

365 Jobs: Warranties

October 2002

As he opens the front door I say, "Hi, Lee.  How are you today?"

"Not so good."  He's a sun-spotted man with thin white hair.  Stooping shoulders. 

I've been maintaining Lee's properties for years.  He's wealthy, retired, walks with a cane.  

Today in his residence I replace a vent fan and a couple of light bulbs.  He always has a couple of lamps that need changing.  He could do it himself, but he waits until he needs me for some other job, then adds the bulbs to the list.  I think it's just to make me linger a little longer.  He gets lonely.

While I replace bulbs, we talk.  Lee's always been a straight shooter, so I shoot right back.  It's why we can get along even though, politically, we're polar opposites.

Lee says, "I've been told I have five more years here, so I hope you repaired accordingly."

"Are you moving?  Or dying?" 

"The latter."  He laughs.  "My warranty will expire."

I examine the carton.  "Looks like the vent fan has a ninety day warranty."

"Ninety days?  I've got ice cubes that last longer than that."

"Your old vent fan lasted twenty-five years, so this one probably will, too."

"What about the light bulbs?" Lee asks.

I examine the box.  "Rated for two thousand hours."

Lee calculates for a moment.  "That's even less than ninety days."

"Not if you turn them off."

"That's what I'll do.  I'll sit in the dark."  He laughs.  "That way they'll last forever."

Five years pass. 

And four more.

Lee is still calling me.  I built a ramp to his front door, installed grab bars everywhere. 

The latest.  Lee calls: "I need a new water heater.  What can you get me?"

"They come with five-year or ten-year tanks."

"Get me a one-year."

I don't say so, but I'll bring him a ten.

"Also," Lee says, "I've got some light bulbs burned out."

May we all outlast our warranties.

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