Bleary-eyed I crawled out of bed, careful not to wake Linda. Stubbing my toe on the foot of the bed with a yelp of ‘Sunday school’ words, I staggered into the hallway, tripped over the cat (more Sunday school words), bumped into the wall. I finally made it into the kitchen and made a bee line for the coffee pot.
I like coffee. I drink coffee when I first get up. I drink coffee at breakfast. I drink coffee midmorning. I drink coffee at lunch. I drink coffee midafternoon and I drink coffee at dinner. Sometimes I even drink coffee before going to bed.
Our coffee pot is the kind you pour the water in the top, put fresh coffee in the filter, push the button and hot coffee is immediately flowing into the carafe. No waiting. My first cup of coffee each morning is ready in mere seconds.
On this particular morning, I poured in the water, put fresh coffee in the filter basket and pushed the button. It didn’t push. No off, no on, nothing. Just a spongy feeling. Somehow, overnight gremlins had attacked the coffee pot and broken the button that turns on the warmer plate under the carafe. I had hot coffee, but no way to keep it warm after I poured the first cup.
A quick calculation: The coffee maker had to be at least nine years old. It made on average four pots of coffee a day. That switch is turned on and then off at least eight times a day, 365 days a year. That is about 26,280 times we have flipped that switch. With that much contact, it is hard not to get emotionally attached. That coffeemaker was now like an old friend.
My second cup I warmed in the microwave. And my third. And my fourth.
Linda finally staggered out of bed. She gets up even more sleepy-eyed and groggy than me. Shuffling across the kitchen to the coffee pot she opened the overhead cupboard door and got her cup and filled it. I just watched. I didn’t say a word. She leaned back against the kitchen counter with the cup in both hands and took her first swallow.
Blewy! She spit it out and slammed the cup down on the counter. “Why isn’t the coffee hot?”
“The coffee pot quit.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“You didn’t give me a chance,” I lied, enjoying her small moment of torture.
“I am going to town and get a new coffee maker,” she declared.
“No, no, I can fix that one. All it needs is a new switch. Here, heat that in the microwave and we will brew up a fresh pot. It will be hot when it first brews, but it just won’t stay hot.”
Lining some cups up on the counter, I poured them full. “Here, every time you want a cup of coffee, just pop one of these in the microwave. It will be fine.”
Looking at me like she thought I was an idiot, she growled. “I am going to town after a new coffee maker!”
“No, I can fix this one,” I repeated.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am not handy with tools. My basic tool kit is a screwdriver, a pair of pliars, a Crescent wrench, a hammer and duct tape. If I don’t fix whatever it is with the Crescent wrench, pliars, or screwdriver, I generally use the hammer and then the duct tape. In that order.
My problem is I just can’t stand to throw anything away. I am always going to fix it. I never do, but the thought is there. Our garage is half filled with broken lamps, toaster ovens, lawnmower engines, old computers and other assorted appliances and garden tools I am going to fix someday.
At 70, I may be starting to run low on “somedays.”
Coffeemakers, though, are essential to life and this was an emergency. I began to attack the coffeemaker with pliars and screwdriver.
There was no way into the switch. At least none that I could see. The innards must have been put into a mold and the molten plastic poured around them and then left to cool, I reasoned. It probably wasn’t made in just that way, but that is what it looked like.
With no way into the switch, I decided to just pry the switch out of the molded plastic facing. That resulted in breaking a big hole in the face of the coffeemaker before I got the switch out. Of course, I didn’t have a replacement switch, so I just twisted the two electrical wires back together and put the broken plastic back together with duct tape. Presto! The heating element was back on. Permanently. We couldn’t turn it on or off.
Linda, who is a design engineering supervisor, looked at my repair in horror.
While I was brewing up a fresh pot of coffee, immensely satisfied with myself for making the repair, I heard the front door slam and her car engine start up.
In the midst of enjoying my third cup of coffee from my repaired coffeemaker she returned home with a new one. With an “I dare you to stop me” look on her face she slammed my repaired coffeemaker into the trash basket.
In a landfill, somewhere, there rests a perfectly functional coffeemaker, bearing the scars of time and a screwdriver. Goodbye old friend, I thought -- briefly, a fresh cup of coffee in hand.