Monday, February 21, 2011


by Ben Small

Crisis in our family. Stress Week. Panic Central. The family has come to visit. Six adults, one three year old girl.

So, of course, everything has gone wrong. First, we suffered a natural gas outing for four days. No warning, little advice on when it would flow again. Cold showers, no heat, frigid Tucson.

Bundled up like an Eskimo, my wife laid out an agenda. Three pages, single-spaced, every visit day covered: activities, meals plus a birthday party for the three year old. So we went to Costco to stock up, and so my wife could hopefully do all the cooking in advance.

That's when we realized we had no room for all the frozen stuff.

So we bought a freezer, added it to the mess in the garage.

Then the refrigerator died. My wife swiped my beer refrigerator, emptied out all my coveted brews, and stacked it full with perishable stuff. Some of this food wouldn't fit, but the GE guy said he'd come over immediately and fix the fridge.

But the fridge needed a part, an expensive one. We weighed just buying a new fridge, and could have had it installed before the kids arrived, but GE said no sweat; they'd repair the problem well before deadline.

So we waited. Day after day, as the panic level rose and more unstashed food spoiled. We called GE. The technician was sick, they said. Had the flu. We asked for another technician, but were told the one assigned had the part, it was expensive, and GE wouldn't send another part and assign another technician.

So we waited again. Each day, we'd get a call, saying the technician was still sick but would be out "tomorrow."

Tomorrow took a week.

So the kids arrived just after the fridge got fixed. Luckily, we'd had time in the interval to buy out Costco and replace all the stuff we'd bought before. But I saved the beer. I donned my thinking cap, you know, the one with the light bulb on top, drove out and became a People from Wal-Mart by buying an oversized cooler and half an iceberg. 

Great, but the three year old caught a cold on her flight and now we've all got it. And lunch in Tombstone cost me a credit card. Seems the waitress lost it. Just like I lost her tip. Now here I sit, attempting to call Bank of America, which in addition to gypping mortgage holders -- or so we've been told -- has all their systems down, and the family (without me) is sitting down to eat.  Dial, dial, dial; internet, internet, internet. Nothing at BOA seems to be working, and tomorrow's a bank holiday.

Who said retirement is easy?

Heck, I'm so mad I may go back to Tombstone and shoot someone...or maybe just myself.

Just kidding...I think.


Carola Dunn said...

Sounds as if you're having fun, Ben ;-( I never had such a string of disasters with grandkids' visits, but I do remember when they were smaller having to buy plastic doohickeys for all the electric sockets in the house, and clearing off every surface because otherwise my grandson was guaranteed to do it for me. And moving all knives to unreachable places that I couldn't remember after they left, and tying cabinet doors together so they couldn't be opened and... Perhaps it's fortunate that memory fails me at that point!

Unknown said...

Tonight's the big birthday party. I'm exhausted, not used to so many people and activities. My wife's exhausted, too. In fact, everybody but the three year old is exhausted, which is probably why the rest of us are in such sad shape. That child does run...until she wants to be carried. Whew! Sabino Canyon is a killer. More than one adult will be stiff as a board tomorrow.

Bill Kirton said...

You probably won't thank me for this, Ben, but, while being aghast at the succession of disasters, I also found myself smiling at the way you recounted them. It was almost like one of those writing exercises where you have to keep adding more and more impossibilities to ratchet up the tension. I love all my family dearly but I do like the peace of when it's just the two of us here.

Unknown said...

It's a blog, Bill, not a short story.

And now they're gone. And while we miss them like crazy, we're glad to be back to a little peace and quiet and to our regular routines. Lots of laughs, lots of reminiscing.

Jaden Terrell said...

But Ben, it does read a little like a short story. Will they get the refrigerator fixed before the family comes? If they can't, what will they eat? And, since we're mystery writers here, what REALLY happened to the first refrigerator technician? A little touch of poison, perhaps? A little repairman rivalry?

Bill Kirton said...

Yes, that's what I meant, too, Beth. But your idea of introducing innocent wee extras such as poison, starvation or repairman mayhem might tip the scales.