A new twist to old advice

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 3, 2003

All my life I've heard the saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Well, I've got a new saying that I should have followed recently, "If it is broke, then you should deeply consider buying a new one."

I've only been in Andalusia for three months now, but I know now what my dad meant by advising me to budget maintenance costs. The pull-cord on my lawnmower completely jammed the first week. I knew the motor wasn't shot, though. So I loaded it in my car and took it to get fixed. Several weeks went by, as my yard turned into a replica of the Amazon, and I finally got a call that it was fixed. I really believed the man on the other line, because I wanted to believe it. After all, I spent $60 for a new pull-cord.

Little did I know, after cutting my grass once, the mower would again fail to crank. Since I had just invested money in the machine, I couldn't neglect it. I looked for a possible lead as to what was wrong with the mower, but my "handy-man" skills aren't quite up to par. So it was back to the shop, and another week and a $50 hole in my checkbook later, I once again got my mower back. That night I went to Wal-Mart to get some milk, and I saw a brand-new mower for $100. I felt sick.

The maintenance charges don't stop in the yard, either. They found a way of invading my home within the first month. The first indication something wasn't right was when I woke up, sweating all over. As I got up to check the thermostat, water from the ceiling where the air conditioning unit stays dripped on the top of my head. I also noticed a low humming coming from the same area. I turned off the a/c unit, which stopped the humming, but not the dripping. I made a phone call, and I was surprised at the speedy response to the call. By mid-afternoon, I had the A/C fixed. So I thought. It still will blow cold air, but will shut off after 5 minutes. Go figure.

And just last week my washing machine was not working properly. It would soak clothes, but not drain them. I, of course, searched for the problem but could not find it (maybe I should have taken more tech classes in school). Once again, I phoned a repair service. The repairman came by, and within 5 minutes had the machine draining water once again. He turned the tub on its side and found a sock blocking the drain. That sock cost me $60.

With the exception of the washing machine, it would have been more economically feasible to purchase a new mower and a new air conditioning unit. The worst part is I'm sure they'll give me problems in the future. So, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." But "if it is broke and you're broke, and you don't know how to fix it, don't fix it."