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Shock and Awe

          It seems like I’m just not ever going to get heat in my house. Poor Bruce  has struggled and struggled to get the lousy boiler to boil. Three weeks ago he said he was going to be finished, and I’d have heat and water, and each week he gets stymied by yet another snafu. For a while there it was because the electrician hadn’t put in the correct breaker or fuse, then it turned out that he had wired it incorrectly since the boiler is German and Mitch isn’t. The Germans, it turns out, have their own way of color-coding wires. Next it was because Radiant Engineering – who designed my system and sold us the parts – failed to deliver the special water tank. After that Dan failed to step up and assemble the solar panels as he promised to do, and no one was available to install the countertop, so we’d have sinks to plumb to. Then holidays got in the way, and then he had his own plumbing emergency, when the Sears guy failed to fix a washer properly and flooded the house, after which the Service Master guy cut the main water line and flooded it again.

          Finally last week Bruce got the boiler to run, and it ran for a day and a half, and life looked good. But then it stopped. Bruce called Radiant Engineering and talked to Pat and then to Courtney and finally Dale, the boss, and none of them could tell him what the problem was. They had him call the representative of the company that makes those boilers, and he couldn’t help, but referred Bruce to a man named –improbably – Melt in the parts division, who said he’d send out a replacement motor, but only after some administrative hurdle was surmounted. This is when I stepped into the picture.

          Bruce explained to me all that he’d been through, disconsolately fingering the post it note with all those names and phone numbers on it and I saw right away pretty clearly that Radiant Engineering needed to step up to the plate. The infernal object was not functioning, no one was able to trouble-shoot it, and it simply had to be replaced. Sometimes you just get a lemon. Marching over to the phone (another infernal object that took intervention by several authorities to get installed), I lifted Bruce’s post-it note and began dialing. Not being in a mood to bother with trifles, I went straight for Dale Pickard’s cell number. Remember that name. Run, don’t walk if you ever encounter it again.

          Dale answered and I said that I had purchased a system from him, it wasn’t working, and we needed to get the problem fixed. He said he was on another line and he’d call me right back, which he did, surprisingly. I’ll give him credit for that, but not much else. I explained the situation to him, and he promptly blamed Bruce. Having a modicum of knowledge of infernal objects left over from my days as an auto mechanic, I was pretty sure it wasn’t installation error, since the i.o. worked for a day and a half, after  the wiring discrepancy had been corrected, and since we (that would be the Royal We…Bruce, of course, did all the heavy lifting here…) were able to bleed water from it, so it wasn’t running dry. Just replace the thing.

          But no, Dale moved to Plan B and blamed Mitch. But it worked for a day and a half, I cried, so the motor was far from fried. And, quoth I, all the troubleshooting of Pat, Courtney, Bob and Melt as well as Dale’s own input has failed to discover the fault; just replace it. I’ve had enough of this run-around. I need heat! I think this is when Dale  began blaming me. He said I’d damn well better not piss him off or he’d take his own sweet time working on the problem. I replied – sensibly enough, even in retrospect – that he’d better not piss me off, since I have yet to sign any checks. That’s when Dale blew his top and called me a bitch. He said he didn’t need to be bitched at by a bitch like me.

          I sure wish I had thought of saying that I was not, as a matter of fact, a female dog, but a paying customer whose patronage he requires to put food on his table, but I didn’t. I didn’t want to win a fight, I wanted to get results. Nevertheless, the fight was on, and Dale, with a shaking voice stuttered indignantly; “are you threatening to not pay me?!” which, of course, I was, but hadn’t expected him to become positively unhinged at the suggestion, so I just pretended it was a rhetorical question. After a while he calmed down, and suggested that some plumber from Great Falls who had installed one or two of these boilers could come up and look at it, and I clung to that  tighter than a politician to a pork barrel, and each time Dale began down the road of his imitation of the head-spinning trick in the Exorcist I said “lets move forward. When can you send him here?” Finally Dale said he had to go, to call Bruce, so I handed the phone off to Bruce, and he played good cop to my bad cop for over an hour, re-explaining to Dale all the things he’d done, and in the end, Dale promised to send another motor up on Friday.  Sheesh. Hadn’t I suggested that very thing two hours ago?

          Well, the pump arrived and Bruce put it in, but it still didn’t work. Having earned my stripes at calling people up and asking them to fix things, I dialed Mitch, who conferred with Bruce, and they decided that maybe the wiring was insufficient. Mitch promises to be up on Sunday. If it does turn out to be the wiring – which would make Dale correct – I can’t say that I’ll be sorry to have been incorrect in my diagnosis, since it did raise Dale’s blood pressure by at least 20 points. Its pretty clear to me that Radiant Engineering would be a much more successful business if its owner got a personality transplant.

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