Fix it; Break it

I had to get one of the many and never ending house repairs done the other day.  It demonstrated one of the immutable laws of nature – the fix it, break it phenomenon also known as the conservation of repairs.  Newton’s third law states that for every action there is an equal but opposite reaction.  Inanimate objects follow this law with a perverse vengeance.    If you are foolish enough to attempt your own electrical, mechanical or plumbing repairs and succeed in saving a hundred bucks, the objects in your house will rise up en masse, failing in rapid succession until you have spent ten times that amount on repairs and repairmen.

I unwittingly fixed a leaking toilet one day only to find a nearly flooded basement two weeks later because my ejector pump broke.  After a panicked call, my plumber, Fast Eddy, shows up, explains how bad the problem is, fixes it and relieves me of enough cash so that I can stop worrying about my next car, my next vacation or newer underwear.  In fact, Fast Eddy said that he had a similar problem in one of his houses.  One of his houses?  My plumber has more houses than I do!  I fully expect him to show up the next time in a repair van that is a combination Hummer and pimpmobile wearing thousand-dollar Max Armani coveralls.

I am, suffice it to say, not mechanically inclined.  The chances of me successfully conducting a major repair to my house are about as great as a dog reading a book.  I feel that, if scientists can believe in black holes, dark matter and exploding galaxies, I can believe in the self-curative powers of inanimate objects by constant incantations, prayers and, in extreme circumstances, human sacrifice.  Is it too much to ask them to break down during weekday hours when repairmen cost less?  To wait until after all the guests at a party have departed?  To agree upon a breakdown schedule that will not drain me of my life’s savings or require a second mortgage?

If only it were so.  Inanimate objects have their own laws:


Inanimate Object

1 An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion. An object at rest breaks when you put it in motion; an object in motion breaks anyway.
2 The acceleration of an object is directly proportional to the magnitude of the net force. The acceleration of an object’s break is directly proportional to your inability to pay for it.
3 For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. For every fix, there is at least one break.

9 thoughts on “Fix it; Break it

  1. Not only are “inanimate” objects sentient, they’re also drama queens who arrange a suicide pact as soon as they’re installed. Just let one major kitchen appliance die, and the others immediately commit hari-kiri. Today the dishwasher croaks, tomorrow you’re buying a new fridge, stove, and microwave, too.

  2. I once paid an electrician $135 to respond to an ’emergency’ when my furnace abruptly stopped working on a cold Sunday evening. It took him 30 seconds to replace a fifteen cent fuse; I didn’t buy groceries that week! I believe Newton’s Laws have all been usurped by the laws of planned obsolescence (i.e, Every item that can break down will, and either just after the warranty has expired or when it will cost the most to repair or replace it).

  3. I can sympathize also, especially concerning plumbing. Our master bathroom throne recently developed a problem that has been recurring for a number of years, perversely refusing to refill after a flush. Over the years I had become good at replacing the seal, but lately that wasn’t working. I guess nothing lasts longer than 20 years – that’s probably an axiom of plumbing.

    It should have been a clue for me that the replacement seals had been harder and harder to find. In frustration, I replaced the whole mechanism with a new type, cheaper than the old one, and behold, it works great now! Moral of the story, I guess, is sometimes complete replacement beats repairs. Also, don’t give up on doing it yourself. Success inflates the ego for weeks!

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