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Thursday, December 1, 2022
HomeHumorThe Papa Files: House Manual

The Papa Files: House Manual

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Wouldn’t it be great if your house came with instructions? New house, old house, each should come with a large-print manual describing everything in and out. I’m sure mine would be a thick, dusty tome, probably written in Middle English and illustrated with woodblock prints.

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First off, I want a thorough description of the switches in the fuse box. The scrawlings of the electrician who installed it are either in shorthand, code, or possibly Old English; I think I can recognize an occasional word. I have added modern English specifics with a sharpie when I discover the oddities, like that the third switch on the right side of the box shuts off the bottom slot of the northeast socket in my office and the top slot of the socket next to the sink in the master bathroom, a house-length away. Who designed the wiring? I want his number so I can call and fake-fire him! But there’s not enough room next to the switches to pen an exact description of everything. I need a comprehensive manual, with blank lines so I can add notes.

And I want to know where my septic tank is, and I mean its exact location by GPS. The greener grass above it doesn’t necessarily pinpoint its position, and I don’t like it when a guy comes over and pokes holes in the ground with a long rod to find it. And where are all the PVC pipes and heads of my sprinkler system? I want a gridded map in my manual, with three schematics, length, depth, and orientation. And what is that sponge-like grass in my front yard, and how do I kill it and replace it with normal grass?

I want to know what’s in every wall and under every floor. I want detailed drawings of what’s in the attic, every wire, every duct, every inch of insulation. Personally, I’d like to know the history of this land dating back ten-thousand years. That’s probably not important regarding my house, but I enjoy stuff like that. There should be long chapters on the water heater, and the AC, describing what’s what and what to do to fix some little thing that’s gone wrong. I want a CD in the back of the manual that downloads me to be able to don 3D goggles and tour all the pipes in the kitchen and bathrooms and out in the yard, exploring as though I’m walking around them, above them, below them, and even through them. I hate not knowing where things are.

There should be a section about how to get rid of popcorn ceilings. What entrepreneur invented and promoted and got rich off of that inconvenience to homeowners? I can’t replace or fix a ceiling fan or clean an AC vent without looking like I have mega dandruff when I step off the ladder. And good lord, never go near the ceiling without safety glasses!

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The reason I’m venting about this is because my daughter, Cocoa Bean, sent me a Tic Tok video about what the hole in the handle of a caulking gun is for. Turns out it’s for snipping off the dispensing end of the cartridge. I would have known that had I ever noticed the hole. Now the next time I shop at Crowder Hardware, I’m going to see if there’s a description of how to use it on the packaging. There probably is. And also, because my best friend, Stoney, and I talked about the glitches of home ownership. My example was when, years ago and miles away up north, on the second floor of our quadruplex, the window of my daughter’s bedroom allowed the brisk wind of winter to flow around its edges, and she was freezing every night. I didn’t know how to stop it. She often slept on the couch.

Then one day I examined the window, trying to see if I could nail a sheet of plywood inside or out, when I noticed a second pane propped up above the midline. I pulled it down, and instantly the room went toasty warm. Well, I didn’t know such a thing existed. What are they called, storm windows? Back when I was kid up north, and further north than at that time, I didn’t deal with windows; my parents did that. But it was then I determined it would have been nice if the folks we rented from had told me. Or better yet, if there had been, even on the shelf of a kitchen cabinet, a manual.

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