This photograph shows a heavily corroded garbage disposal, as seen from above. (Courtesy Photo/RTHardin)

This photograph shows a heavily corroded garbage disposal, as seen from above. (Courtesy Photo/RTHardin)

Slack Tide: Alas, Poor Garbage Disposal!

“Into each life some rain must fall.”

“Into each life some rain must fall,” wrote Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (the poet, not the less-than-reputable actor.) Yet tragedy always shocks when it strikes a member of your own household. And so it was, the day our garbage disposal died.

Of course, it’s never easy to lose a kitchen appliance, especially one whose replacement involves both plumbing and electrical wiring.

You see, my wife and I share a domestic arrangement that defies most traditional roles. She earns a professional’s salary; I have a sewing pile. She brings down the hammer on our kids; I cook them French toast and omelets to-order every morning, even during the school year (since COVID, I’ve added bacon and hash browns). She goes out drinking with (socially distant outdoor cocktails, but still); I stay home barefoot and pregnant (with a food baby, but, also, still.) However, when it comes to home repair — that’s my responsibility. Not because I’m a man, just chronically underemployed and seeking a productive activity. I mean, aside from fattening myself up for winter.

One problem: I’m not exactly what you’d call “handy.” Where I’m originally from in suburban New York, nobody fixes anything themselves, except maybe a build-your-own sundae. Until I moved up here and into my own house, I left maintenance to the maintenance man. Don’t get me wrong. All those years of crappy rental apartments made me a wiz at assembling cheap Scandinavian furniture. It also fostered a certain resourcefulness. I remember on one occasion jerry-rigging a toilet flusher apparatus with dental floss. The stopgap lasted for weeks — until the landlord finally acquiesced to calling a real plumber — although I’m pretty sure the mint flavoring wore off.

But from the moment I first noticed our garbage disposal acting funky, I suspected a problem no amount of dental floss might fix.

[Forget pandemics it’s Memorial Day]

Naturally, my first solution entailed benign neglect (tip: Never under-estimate the effectiveness of doing nothing!) Then I tried blowing into it really hard. What? That’s how we fixed glitchy Nintendo cartridges back in the day (I also tried up-down-up-down-B-A-B-A-start).

When these strategies failed, I enhanced my approach: unplugging, waiting, then plugging back in. Then, I unplugged and waited a little longer. Then, a little longer than that. Then, I tried a different outlet. Then, the first outlet again — and so forth for about a half hour. Nothing.

No, this would require tools.

And so I went to work a wooden spoon, with which, by means of vicious jiggling, I kick-started the internal flywheel. This seemed to do the trick… until the disposal ate the spoon and started spitting sparks and smoke. Now, I needed real tools. Metal tools. Tools I probably didn’t own.

The first holiday season in our house, my wife bought me a whole elaborate toolset. Problem is, she didn’t enlist a salesperson’s help, and wound up choosing something better suited to auto mechanics. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, so I never exchanged it. But aside from the socket set, I have no idea what the other stuff is for — I pretty much just use it for weighing down tarps.

Most of my other tools I purchased 20 years ago, tiny tools for a tiny apartment, better suited to hanging art or fixing eyeglasses. As such, here in Alaska, my tools tend to be a lot smaller than everyone else’s tools. And I’m definitely self-conscious. I know it’s ridiculous, and it shouldn’t matter anyway, because who cares about the size of your tool as long as it gets the job done. But still. That’s why I bought a 26-inch chainsaw — hard to feel insecure about your masculinity when you’re running a 26-inch chainsaw.

Thanks to the disposal, I discovered yet another tool inadequacy, this time a pipe wrench (talk about Freudian.) Like any red-blooded American male, I drove right down to the hardware store and bought the biggest, fattest pipe wrench available. Want to see it? I’ll text you a pic.

Wielding such an immense, powerful tool, removing the old disposal proved a snap. But as I stood there admiring my handiwork — gaping hole in the sink, drain leaking brown water into the cabinet — I couldn’t help but wonder why I hadn’t also bought a replacement garbage disposal. So, back to the hardware store for me! Of course, only two trips for one project seems like I got off easy.

Something else I learned: no matter what the product is, the higher end the model, the easier it is to install. I have to say, our new InSinkerator (great name) is like the iMac of disposals — it practically installed itself. Didn’t even require hose clamps, which is too bad, because I also picked myself up an absolutely monster screwdriver.

Man, I was really looking forward to whipping out that bad boy.

• Geoff Kirsch is an award-winning Juneau-based writer and humorist. “Slack Tide” appears twice monthly in Neighbors.

More in Neighbors

Zoom
Gimme a Smile: Please don’t think I’m rude

Why is a Zoom meeting so much more stressful than an in-person gathering?

Thx
Thank you letter for the week of Nov. 29

Thank you, merci, danke, gracias, gunalchéesh.

tease
Living & Growing: Be thankful, the best is yet to come

It is possible to be thankful in all circumstances when we learn to take the long view of things

The Rev. Larry Rorem is the retired pastor of Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church. Laura is a “professional” parent of kids born with Neurobehavioral disabilities. (Courtesy Photo / The Rorems)
Living & Growing: The legacy of 2020

Burdensome realities can create learning opportunities that bring growth

Dominic Hall, 12, won Coppa’s 2020 Halloween Coloring Contestthe contest with his colorful pumpkin entry. (Courtesy Photo)
Coppa crowns coloring contest champ

Local youth wins $50 gift card.

Thx
Thank yous for Sunday, Nov. 22

Organizations thank supporters.

This week’s super-non-controversial substitute opinion: kids should eat their dinner. There! Take issue with that! (Courtesy Photo / Unsplash)
Slack Tide: ‘The Ballad of the Never-Ending Dinner’

Let’s talk about the real issues — kids should finish their suppers.

Guy Cockroft (Courtesy Photo)
Living & Growing: God’s kingdom cannot be shaken

There has been a whole lotta shakin’ going on in 2020.

teaser
Living & Growing: Thinking small makes a big difference

“God has given us amazing bodies, but too often, we neglect them.”

Snow is a form of precipitation in the form of crystallized ice that predominately falls in winter; in Alaska, this can mean every month aside from July, and even then… (Unsplash / Aaron Burden)
Slack Tide: Everything you want to know about snow…and less

Snow can cause extremely dangerous driving conditions, especially when rocking a Prius sans studs.

tease
Living & Growing: Choice is a gift

It allows us to be active, not passive, in our lives.

Tease
Stlack Tide: Crazy for Krazy Glue

Fond as I am of duct tape, I love another multi-use adhesive even more