My husband, you see, is a handy guy. He can fix things. He believes in the science of RTFM (Read The Frickin' Manual). He has a well-stocked garage workshop. So when he catches me guiltily clutching the Yellow Pages, he'll start in, "Wait a minute. Why call a repair service? It'll probably wind up costing $200 when I can fix this myself."

It's not that I don't believe he can fix the item in question. I'd bet he could—if he could find the requisite manual. Which could be in the broom closet. Or the junk closet. Or in an unlabeled box in the attic. Or in that file cabinet, the one that's locked but we can't find the key to. Maybe the key is in an unlabeled box in the attic with the manual. Or if he had the time, which he doesn't, with the job, the kids, the downloading of college-era songs from iTunes.

Of course, I could just wait until I have some privacy and call in the repair gods then. But the fact is, my husband has, occasionally, been right. There was a recent Friday about 6 P.M., during what the kids' school calls "lice alert" season, when I decided to wash every sheet, pillowcase, duvet, towel, and bath mat in as few loads as possible. About half an hour into this process, I started hearing that ominous, telltale thunk! thunk! thunk! that only 50 pounds of sopping-wet linens can make inside a washer. I went downstairs and was greeted by a large puddle creeping toward me from under the machine. I unplugged it and began leaving messages at every emergency appliance-repair service I could find, none of which were all that responsive.
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