On Friday evening I came home with every intention of building a machine, a washing machine.  It had been completely disassembled two nights previously and the first task of Friday evening was to repair the critical component; the bearings.  On inspection the bearings revealed themselves to be in a sorry state.  Replacement seemed to be the only option but coupled with a very dodgy looking seal that was designed to protect the bearing there was now no option at all.  I was disappointed on two levels; I had been looking forward to the challenge of rebuilding the machine and I also had to tell the lovely Sharon that we needed a new one.  We are both a little stubborn at times and often we find ourselves avoiding the easy option of throwing things out and throwing money at problems.  Years ago we had our first experience of this when our oven died.  It was a relatively young little oven but the advice from all who we asked kept pushing us towards a new one.  We resisted the peer pressure and found a heating element in the back of an old hardware store.  It looked like a similar design and it met the technical requirements, but it had some extra bits of metal that had to be hack sawed off for it to work with our own oven.  In its new lease of life it served us well and I am sure it is still cooking things today.

Discussing the washing machine repair with a few friends got mostly the same opinion as the cooker.  However, two old boys in work filled me with encouragement.  I chatted with the old boys about the washing machine and they did not knee jerk with, “buy a new one”.  Instead they mulled it over for a few moments and then animated that I should go nowhere near the repair shops but instead I should go straight to a boy they knew that sold the bearings.  They insisted that this was the sensible course of action as the repair shops buy their bearings from him and they add less than a fair premium for the middle-man service.  I need to point out that they are not really that old at all but they are the school’s caretakers with many years experience of fixing all sorts of things.  One of them has been a hand that built the ships that used to roll out of the yards in Belfast, ships that have rolled over the seas for years.  The other is a plumber that loves the soil and all that he can grow from it.  He spends his evenings on the allotments caring and fussing over all the little shoots and seeds that give him food and joy.  He brings me spare plants that he does not need for me to transfer to our vegetable garden and I bring him our eggs and taught him how to use the espresso machine in the staff room.  Sometimes my free period synchronises with their lunch and I steal a few blissful moments to sit and look out the widow with them.  We talk about anything and everything while sipping Americanos.

They might be disappointed that the machine is beyond repair but I know that will not be saying, “I told you so”.  They will say that that is the way of things and they will say it with the wisdom of experience.  I am not as experienced as they are and someday I hope I will be.  I am glad that I spent some time trying and maybe I gained a wee bit of experience in the process.  The machine parts are in a pile with all the stuff that needs to go to the dump soon.  Although there was the motor which looked like a fine little motor, too fine to throw away.  It has now found a little niche on a shelf and I have a wee idea about a possible use for it in the future.  It will more than likely be a couple of years before I get around to that particular project.

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