Category Archives: anecdote

Truth In Labelling

Recently, my gas dryer stopped working. I called a repair service. I waited two days before the ‘repairman’ came. He checked the dryer for a few minutes and then told me that I needed a new motor at a cost of $78.00. Since this expense would have completely wrecked my budget, I gave him a polite refusal and handed him $7.50 for his ‘house call.’  My husband removed the motor that night, discovered that it was choked rlth lint, cleaned it out, and within haft an hour had the dryer vorking again.

Some time before that we had had a similar experience with an air-vcnditioning unit. At that time, we were more naive and more desperate for the use of the air-conditioner, so we paid tor a new motor. We insisted on keeping the old motor however, and later on, a friend who knows about air-conditioners showed us what was wrong with the motor and how easily it could be repaired. He did it in less than five minutes.

I am infuriated with repair-service men who come out to ‘repair’ something but only know how to ‘replace’ it. Of course it is much easier to replace a broken part than repair it — it takes more skill to be able to fix something than to screw in a replacement — but it a repair-service doesn’t have men who can fix things, the men who come to service our appliances should have a more appropriate title. After all, consumers have won a truth-in-labeling law. Repair-service men should be truthfully labeled too. How about calling them replacemen?

Lady M writes: This is another anecdote from the 1970’s. I wish appliance repairs were under 100 dollars, and that the base service call rate was still less than $10.

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Don’t Panic

Gerri’s two children were only toddlers, her husband was out of town on business, and her back went out. She couldn’t move without help, and the doctor insisted that she go to the hospital to be placed in traction.
I offered to take the children, but since I have a couple of toddlers my­self, Gerri was reluctant to agree. Besides, she felt that if her children remained in their own home, they would weather her absence better. The best solution, she felt, was to ask her parents, both in their seventies, to stay with the children. The loving grandparents of course agreed.

One evening, two days after Gerri entered the hospital, when I was feeling utterly exhausted from dealing with my children all day, I thought of Gerri’s parents and wondered how they were coping. I picked up the phone to offer sympathy and whatever help I could.

“Hello-o-o,” came the soft voice of Gerri’s mother, a voice that had not lost its trace of old-country accent.

“Hello, Mrs. Hoffman, it’s Paula. I called to find out how you and Mr. Hoffman are managing with the little ones.”

There was a small sigh. “Vell,” she said, “ve don’t panic.”

Mrs. Hcffman’s brave reply has since become our family motto. Many times, when we are faced with an emotional crisis, when an unexpected repair bill knocks our budget for a loop, when sickness or disappointment or the day’s news threatens to overwhelm us, my husband and I look at each other–

“Well,” we say in unison, “we don’t panic.”

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This One Is Personal

My father is an avid chess player, so it didn’t surprise me to
see him start to teach his grand-daughter the game when she was just a tot. He taught her to recognize the different chess pieces before she was four years old. It wasn’t long before our little Wendy knew that the piece with the horse’s head was called a knight, the one with the crown was the queen and the one with the crown and a cross on top was the king.

Shortly afterward, we were all out for a Sunday walk when we
passed an old, crowded cemetery. The scene was new to little Wendy, and she stopped and stared with widened eyes. Rows of tombstones filled the landscape as far as her eyes could see,

“Look, Grandpa,” she cried in amazement, “it’s a big chess set with millions of kings!”

Lady M writes: This was a favorite story that my mother would tell. I still have that “look at the chess pieces” feeling when I drive past a cemetary.

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On a recent visit to New York City, I decided to explore the famous lower East side, where shopkeepers display their wares out-of-doors and haggle with their customers about price in old-world style. Passing a haberdashery on Delancey Street, I stopped to look at a car coat that I thought might suit my husband, and then walked on. The proprietor of the store, a bright-eyed, bearded old gentleman, ran after me. “That’s a lovely coat, a real value,” he urged. “Such a coat, only thirty dollars, you should certainly buy.”

I shook my head and walked on. He followed me, lowering the price to twenty-five, then twenty, and finally fifteen dollars. At that price I just couldn’t resist buying it.

My husband was delighted with the coat. My son liked it too. So did
my brother-in-law and a couple of neighbors. The next time I went to New York, I decided to buy a few more. But I wanted them at the same bargain price. I knew that this time the proprietor would sense my interest, making him much harder to deal with. During the trip, I rehearsed bargaining techniques.  I would be disinterested, casual, cool, poker-faced.

At the store, instead of the old man, a young, bored-looking fellow lounged in the doorway. “Where’s the old gentleman?” I asked.

“My father? He’s home today. Can I help you?”

My heart sank. This bored young sophisticate would be a lot tougher than the sweet old man. But I took a deep breath and plunged in.

“How nuch is that car coat?” I asked.

“Fifteen bucks,” he replied promptly.

I opened my mouth and shut it again. “I’ll take four,” I said meekly.

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Yep, That’s My Grandpa

When my grandfather spent the winter at the Miami Beach home of his sister Rose, we expected trouble, for they were both in their seventies and both strong-minded and cantankerous. They surprised us all by getting along quite well, except for one thing that seemed to get on Grandpa’s nerves–Rose’s habit of referring to her friends, all ladies of advanced age, as the girls. “I’m meeting the girls for lunch,” she would say, to his mounting irritation, or, “I’m going to play cards with the girls.”

He restrained himself from making any comments, however, until one day when she really got to him, and he blew his cork. He had been sitting out on the front lawn playing chess with a friend, while she was in the house preparing dinner. The chess game had attracted a small group of on­lookers, one of whom was a young girl, about 19 or 20 years old. When the game ended, the girl asked Grandpa if he would play a game with her. Grand­pa has never lost his eye for a pretty face or a well-turned ankle, so he readily agreed. While they were playing, he became aware that Rose was keeping them under close surveillance. Every few minutes she would look out at them from the kitchen window or peer out the front door. When the game ended, and the young lady had said goodbye and left, Rose stormed out of the house and made straight for Grandpa. Shaking her finger at him accusingly, she spewed out the question that made him explode!

“Just who,” she asked, “was that woman you were playing chess with?”

Lady M writes: These collected anecdotes were written during the 1970’s; but if my grandfather was in his 70’s during this story, the time frame must have been the late 50’s or early 60’s. Grandpa was born in 1888.

The photo is of my grandfather and mother, taken at my Aunt’s house, sometime in the late 70’s.

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