The time my hot water tank burst, I ran straight to my laptop.
The Internet saves my skin regularly. Doesn’t matter whether it’s a “pink” or a “blue” problem; it helps with measurement conversions, cooking problems, a maintenance issue, scientific matters, computer challenges or some silly fix-it situation.
My chair’s been bugging me for months. The hydraulics have been giving out. It slowly lowers and I don’t notice until my chin sits at the same level as my arms.
Amazing – it doesn’t matter how I ask the question, there’s usually a video showing the answer. This time I found a perfectly simply way to fix my chair. This guy took some PCP pipe, slit it down the middle, slipped it over the stem of the chair and with two clamps, secured the top and bottom of the piping securely.
Brilliant, I decided, and trotted off to my Non-Fail Lumber Yard. The men in this shop listen to my fix-it ideas and often top them with more simple and functional solutions. They even foist free goods as a means for solving my problem. Example? Why buy a tarp when I can just take the plastic covers they’ve removed from loads of lumber? Why buy a few nails from the regular bin when there’s a bin of free leftovers/recyclables of every size and description?
Yesterday when I walked into the shop, a male clerk approached me who I’d not seen before. Undaunted, I explained my hydraulic chair problem. I told him I wanted 3 1/2 ” of flexible PCP piping and two metal screw clamps.
He led me to bins of piping that were all about 1/8″ thick – completely non-bendable.
“No, I want the thinner piping. I need to slit it and slip it around the stem of the chair.”
“Oh that wouldn’t work. You need this kind of pipe.” He picked up a piece of piping and rapped his knuckles on it. “How would you plan on cutting it?”
“I have no means of cutting pipe that thick. I don’t want that kind of piping. Where’s your thinner, more flexible kind?” This man was not going to let some woman tell him how to fix a hydraulic chair.
“Listen”, he said, “I’ve fixed tons of those kinds of chairs. I’m telling you…you have to have piping this thick. In fact, I’ll tell you the best thing you can do. Take that chair to a welder and get him to weld it so it won’t budge.”
“I am going to try this piping trick. So you don’t have any thinner stuff?”
“Nope. And you’d have to cut THIS piping in two places, then glue the two pieces to the stem.”
“No, I am going to clamp it. Glue won’t work – the stem’s been well-greased by the manufacturer.”
I knew I had to get myself into the hands of another clerk. This man had been against my idea from the beginning.
“Well, I guess you’ll have to try Home Hardware. But it won’t work.”
“I’m amazed! I’ve been coming in here for years and, you know, this may be the first time I walk out of here empty handed. Imagine your store not having the lighter PCP pipes. Oh well, thanks for your help.”
He headed back to the main counter. Instead of leaving the store, I decided to walk down other aisles to see if I could come up with a brainwave. It didn’t seem possible that this idea couldn’t happen. I fought the feeling of being berated and put aside. I turned on my creative juices in case I could spot an alternative way to fix the chair.
Then I saw a neighbour woman come in looking lost – looking for weather stripping for one of her doors. I needed some, too, so decided to join her to see what was in stock. I asked one of the other men where the stripping could be found.
Audrey and I cruised up one floor and was joined by the man who gave us the directions. He listened to Audrey, asked questions and made suggestions. With his help, both of us realized after seeing what was offered, we needed another look at our doors to decide which would work best.
As the three of us were parting, I took a chance, “I actually came in to find some piping so I could repair a hydraulic chair that keeps slipping down. I’m surprised you guys don’t carry that flexible PCP brand. I want to wrap it around the stem and clamp it well.”
“We do carry that kind of PCP. We’ve got lots of it. How much do you need?”
Just like that! He grabbed a tool to cut off a piece of pipe and slit it down the middle. As he headed to an outside location, he said, “You’re in charge of the clamps.”
I found the rightsized clamps and met him back at the check-out counter. He held up a perfect 3 1/2 ” piece of flexible pipe – exactly what I needed. The total bill – clamps et al: $4.32.
What a difference! It’s all about attitude. The first man carried a preconceived idea that my plan was not plausible. The entire exchange with him was in the negative.
With the second man, I felt heard and respected. Charming without being condescending, he served with dignity and humour.
Thank goodness I didn’t give up. You see, I’m sitting here in my hydraulic chair with it’s new piping clamped tightly around the stem and my chin is a good foot off the desk where it belongs.